By Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the federal government to remove the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) from the civil service structure to enable the agency to attract the right personnel in order to safeguard the aviation industry.
In a letter signed by its president, Abdulmunaf Yunusa and addressed to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, the airlines said that the request to remove NCAA from civil structure is of immediate safety concern about the aviation industry.
AON stated that NCAA was established to regulate the aviation industry and implement government policies in the industry and also enforce the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety standards and recommended practices to ensure that the operators in the industry met the safety requirements.
But the agency would only be able to do this if it attracts the right personnel with sound technical know-how and to attract these special skills, it must be willing to offer these personnel attractive and competitive salaries.
“In order to effectively carry out its important duties as highlighted above, the NCAA needs to attract and engage a team of technically sound professionals in virtually every field of aviation, notably flight operations, engineering, safety inspectors, dispatchers, cabin executives among others, so as to be able to conduct regular oversight of the industry.
“It is however sad to note that there is a growing level of deficiency today within the NCAA in the area of human capacity due to its inability to attract and retain experienced industry professionals as a result of its inadequate recruitment and salary regime compared to the offers they get from working for the airlines,” AON said.
The operators told the Senate that because of this situation, many inspectors are leaving NCAA and the few that remain are not well-motivated and hardly enough to meet the requirements of the industry, adding that the young personnel that are in the agency currently do not have the required experience.
AON stressed that this portends immediate danger to flight safety and flight operations, as the few hands remaining are either too old and tired or are too inexperienced to undertake proper and adequate oversight functions over airlines’ operations.
The operators noted that no country allows its Civil Aviation Authority’s salaries to be determined by civil service rules.
“The safety challenges are real and should be addressed through legislation for the good of the industry and safety of the lives of the flying public. There is therefore a need to, as matter of urgency, find a way to immediately address the problem in order to forestall a potential beckoning disaster.
“AON would therefore, like to use this medium to respectfully call on the National Assembly to urgently review the establishment Act of the NCAA and to immediately remove the agency from the civil service salary structure in order for the agency to be able to attract the urgently needed experts for the sake of safety,” AON urged.