Is Airport certification synonymous with safety or not? There are insinuations that since none of the airports under the control of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is certified, they may have questionable safety standards. Uncertified airports are being construed as falling below acceptable operational level. Pilots flying into such areas are said to be doing so at their own peril. Does certification imply passing a prescribed set of examinations?
According to experts, airport certification is a process whereby the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) demands that all airports adhere strictly to its convention and maintain uniform safety standards. Certification is compliance with ICAO standard and recommended practices. We confirm from good authority that Nigeria is in the process of certifying two airports. These are the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. It began in 2007. Due to paucity of funds hence it is limited to the two airports for now. It is very expensive manpower training, competency; certification is about responsibility ‘This is not to say that all our airports are not safe. We just want to do what is expected of us. We have the personnel. Training is the main challenge because it involves huge sum of money. Our airports both local and international are safe,” a source told Aviationline.
The Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA),the aviation regulatory agency in Nigeria, Capt. Usman Muhtar indicated that”as it is now, none of the airports have been certified.”
According to him they are all undergoing the process of certification.
“We are concentrating more on Lagos and Abuja for now but then the target is to certify at least, the four major international airports. We are working very hard to ensure that those airports are certified in line with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).And if an airport is not certified, it does not mean it is not safe; it is, but it is just that a requirement that should be adhered to is not in place. I can assure you, our airports are safe. Our airspace is also safe. The regulatory agency is up and doing,” the NCAA boss emphasised.
From the foregoing, we can deduce that Nigerian airports are not in a bad state. But, since certification is a requirement, the country should not delay in mustering all the factors that are essential to enable it meet the demand of the United Nations specialised agency. The process had been delayed due to poor financial position of government. Concerned authorities should pay more attention to the certification process. If it is done (certification), Nigeria, in the estimation of insurance companies, professional bodies both local and international, handling companies and operators will be rated higher. There will be no room for speculation about the safety status of Nigerian airports