In a move aimed at enhancing the safety and security of the Nigerian aviation sector, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has initiated moves to begin blacklisting of negligent airline regulators at all levels.
This was as the Minister also issued a directive mandating all wet leases entering the country to include Nigerian pilots and cabin crew.
Vanguard reports that this strong stance comes in the wake of a recent flight diversion incident where a United Nigeria Airlines airplane landed in Asaba International Airport on Sunday rather than the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA).
It was against this backdrop that the Minister also ordered the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, NSIB, to, within 10 days, provide a comprehensive report of all investigations carried out on air accidents and the reason why they happened.
Addressing pressmen after a high class technical meeting with key aviation heads, Monday night, in Abuja, the Minister said the decision comes in response to concerns over unfamiliarity with Nigerian terrain and communication issues resulting from the use of foreign pilots and crew.
Some of the key aviation heads are: Managing Director, MD, of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Managing Director, Federal Airport Authority Nigeria (FAAN), Director General, DG, Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), and Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
He said: “To assure and reassure Nigerians that we are taking every step as a ministry to ensure the safety of lives of Nigerians who decide to travel by air.
“For the recent incidents that happened recently, some minor, and others classified as serious incidents although there was no fatalities. The NSIB is investigating these incidents and I have directed them that within 10 days from today they must submit their report of the incidents and what actually transpired.
“However, we have some preliminary and precautionary steps that are being taken by the ministry and the regulator. The incident that happened yesterday where a plane bound for Abuja ended up in Asaba, we have listened to the transcript produced by NAMA from the tower to the pilot and it was clear that when the pilot was taking off from Lagos he was headed to Asaba not Abuja
“There was no weather problem in Abuja yesterday, it was a question of a wet lease plane where the pilot and crew were all foreigners not Nigerians so they were not familiar with the Nigeria terrain.
“From the transcript we heard the tower kept asking the pilot, confirm again that you are going to Abuja not Asaba, the Pilot replied no I am going to Asaba before they took off the tower asked again and it was the same response. It was purely an in-house administrative issue. We have asked them to interview the dispatcher who dispatched that plane and where sanctions should apply we should apply sanctions.
“We have agreed that henceforth all wetleases coming into Nigeria, you must have a Nigeria pilot seated on the jump seat with the foreign pilot.
“I also directed the NCAA to within the next 72 hours summon all pilots and crew operating wet leases in Nigeria for further briefing. The NCAA must sanction the airline regulators who are negligent and made an error of judgment withdrawing their licenses and blacklisting them. We have also decided that the cabin crew of the wet leases must be Nigerians to ease interaction between the passengers and cabin crews.”
Speaking on flight cancellation and delay by airlines, Keyamo said: “We are not deaf to the cries of Nigerians about delays and canceled flights. The law is there and we are looking at how to enforce those laws for compensation of Nigerians who bear the brunt of cancellation of flights
“The process of grounding the airline or taking the airlines to court will create more problem
So if the reason for the delay and cancellation of flight is their fault they must pay compensation. And what I am suggesting is that if they don’t get cash back they must get some rebate when they buy next ticket.
“I have set up a committee to look into it such that they can generate a code that they can use when they want to purchase the next ticket
We are concerned about the passenger satisfaction and the safety of the air travelers.”
Keyamo also ordered DG NCAA to ensure a weekly catalog of canceled flights on a weekly basis.