ACTING Director General, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Benedict Adeyileka has publicly commended Dr. Samuel Ortom for providing the leadership and support that culminated into Nigeria’s retention of the category one status from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States.
He stated this at a press briefing in Lagos at an occasion to mark Nigeria’s category one recertification which was attained recently.
The category one safety status is only given to countries that have complied with a rigorous safety audit in terms of technical capacity, manpower capability and regulatory oversight. It’s after this tasking process that the US considers those countries’ airlines safe enough to fly into the USA.
Chief Ortom was the Supervising Minister of Aviation throughout the period the safety audit was conducted on Nigeria by the FAA as well as the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment.
FAA had first awarded Nigeria category one safety status in 2010, after it was confirmed that the country had met the international aviation safety assessment standards.
Recall in March, 2014 the FAA visited Nigeria and carried out an intensive safety assessment of the Nigerian aviation industry to ascertain if the status will be withdrawn or not.
The eight critical elements the US FAA team looked at were primary aviation legislation, specific operating regulations, state civil aviation system and safety oversight functions as well as technical personnel qualification and training.
Other critical elements included technical guidance and tools, licensing and certification obligations, surveillance obligations and resolution of safety concerns.
During that process some open areas were identified which needed to be closed within a specified period of time or Nigeria would lose the certification.
The NCAA DG confirmed that Chief Ortom who was the acting minister of aviation at the critical period provided support and leadership which saw the National Assembly and the Presidency grant all the necessary funding and support in record time to beat the deadline set by the FAA.
He said Chief Ortom indeed deserved commendation for the support.
“We recognized our deficiencies and we took our challenges to the then supervising minister for aviation, Chief Ortom and he promptly acted on our concerns” adding that the NCAA got the necessary support from him.
Adeyileka, who is an engineer, also used the opportunity to thank all other stakeholders in the aviation industry who worked tirelessly to ensure that Nigeria retained the certificate.
He also announced government’s support to airlines who would want to take advantage of the category one status to service the US route.
With this success, Arik Air has announced its willingness to expand its routes to the US to include Houston and Washington DC adding that it’s current JFK route will soon go daily.