●NCAA: We‘ll not certify airports below standard
The Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, is in the fourth stage of the five-stage certification process, an indication that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have closed substantial gaps that could make the aerodrome the first to receive global safety and security ratings.
Director General of NCAA, Capt Usman Muhtar, told Woleshadarenews that the regulator will not certify any airport that is below standard and will put mechanisms in place to ensure that the airports, if certified, will remain so.
He disclosed that the aviation regulatory body was ready to certify Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, adding that Lagos is in the fourth stage of the five-stage certification process.
There are indications that the Federal Government may have spent over N3 billion to raise the standards of the airport and procurement of modern facilities to meet up with requirements needed for the certification of Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMA).
According to Usman, they (NCAA) have been working hand-in-hand with the service providers to do a thorough job while stating that the job is to certify while the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) validates the certification.
He said: “We will not certify any airport that is below standard. We will ensure that airports that have met international standards as specified will be certified. And we will also mount surveillance to ensure that they continue to meet those standards and recommended practices, to continue to exercise privilege of the certificate issued to them.
“Principally, because of safety and primarily, the ICAO is more concerned about airports that are being used or designated as international airports. Towards that end, we have been working with the two operators or service providers – FAAN and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) – to ensure that all that needs to be put in place for the certification have been put in place.
“Our own is to certify after the operator, in this case, FAAN, beginning with Lagos and the next one will be Abuja. That all the requirements have been met with the certification and they will continue to remain certified. So, it is one thing to attain the level of certification and another to sustain the certification. The standards have to be maintained.”
On how far the certification of Lagos has gone and the processes, he stated: “The certification process is in five stages and Lagos is about the fourth stage. The fifth stage is just the signing of the certificate. So, we can say it is almost at the point of certification. Abuja too, once Lagos is finished, we will concentrate more.
“Even though Abuja, some of the things that we needed to put in place were taken care of during the closure of the Abuja airport. As I said, there are five stages: the pre-application stage, formal application stage, document and evaluation of document stage, operational demonstration stage.
“At this stage, all the document you put forward, the way you operate, we want to see. And what you say you have in place is there and finally we sign the certificate. As I said, signing of certificate is just the beginning. You have certificate and it comes with privilege and you can only access the privilege if you continue to maintain the standards.”
The ICAO Manual for Certification of Aerodromes lists steps for the certification of an airport. It also mandates the airport operator to prepare an aerodrome manual, which must contain details of the aerodrome site and its operating procedures for air traffic management and safety management, among other things.
In addition to the documents to be submitted to the ICAO, assessors to be appointed by the ICAO must undertake physical inspections at the Lagos and Abuja airports.
Airport facilities to be inspected before certification is granted include, pavement conditions; safety area lighting; markings and signs; hazardous materials; traffic and wind indicators; ground vehicles and driver training; aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment.
Others are bird and wildlife hazard prevention mechanisms; self-inspection procedures; airport condition assessments and reporting; the control of construction hazards and emergency and snow removal plans.