In the last edition of Aviation Line Magazine Vol. 6 Issue 21, Under The Radar concluded the literary discourse on Redefining Features of High-profile Airline Collapse and its impact on the socio-economic well-being of the people. Today Under the Radar is taking a more holistic viewpoint on the survival or sustainability of air transportation in Nigeria with the expectation that perhaps, someone would take notice and decide to eliminate the factors inimical to sustainable air transportation system.

Ask anyone about sustainability, he/she would tell you right away the meaning based on what he/she has as a hind-side of knowledge or professional bias. Of course you cannot condemn or disapprove such explanation and/or definition as biased because everyone sees the world a little differently.

Among the many ways sustainability has been defined, the most fundamental to me is the ability to sustain or put a little differently; the capacity to endure or continue; ability of something to regenerate and maintain itself or to be used without being used-up or destroyed permanently.

However, I prefer the holistic view point advanced by Wieldenhoeft (1981) and Padisson (2001). They averred that, sustainability entails the attainment of equilibrium among three contending subsystems: economic growth, socio-cultural development and environment efficiency; informally referred to as People, Planet and ProfIt (3Ps). The interplay of these three pillars dictate the strength of sustainability; be it developmental effort, health care provision, agriculture, environmental protection, quantum of gases in the atmosphere; in the same way it dictates the survivability of air transportation system.

It’s been scientifically proven that the planet’s eco-systems are deteriorating and the climate is changing faster due to global warming phenomenon and excessive exploitation of earth natural resources. The catastrophic signs of this phenomena are everywhere; in the air, sea and landforms, that we are consuming so much and so quickly that it appears we are already living at the brink of earth’s capacity to support anything and everything.

If this is so, it means the earth’s intrinsic capacity to regenerate itself has a definite Carrying Capacity, just like the tensile strength of a material which ruptures by the application of excessive longitudinal stress. In fact, every man-made system or object suffers the same fate.  They malfunction and fail when improperly handled. In the event that the carrying capacity of the supporting ecosystem of the earth is exceeded due mainly to over exploitative tendencies of man, our survival as human beings and indeed other living species would be severely threatened. This is the fundamental reason the United Nation (UN) gave priority attention to the concept of sustainable development in all spheres of human endeavor. To the developed world, it is realistic and realizable but a passing mirth to the under-developed nations.

May I remind you that the subject of global sustainability hit the limelight in 1992 at the RIO Earth Summit where the world governments developed a number of key international agreements including United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC). Again in 2012, the UN met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil South America to chart a new progress on sustainable development otherwise known as RIO +20.

As an air navigation systems professional and commentator on future trends in air transportation, I recall vividly that the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) coordinated aviation industry representation at RIO +20. It gave the air transport sector a chance to outline the sustainable development actions it is already taking and further work with governments on the challenges of providing economic growth and meeting environmental responsibilities.

  1. O. ONWUKA

Chief Instructor & Head, Aviation Management School

Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT)