After a 12-day assessment of Nigeria’s aviation sector, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has released its initial report on the Universal Safety Audit Program Continuous Monitoring Approach (USOAP-CMA). The audit, concluded on Monday, awarded Nigeria a score of 70 percent, reflecting the country’s progress in enhancing aviation safety compliance.
The comprehensive audit, conducted from August 30 to September 11, 2023, focused on inspecting, monitoring, and reviewing regulatory standards governing the activities of critical aviation agencies in line with ICAO recommended standards and practices. Nigeria’s regulatory authority for aviation, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), was the focal point of the audit.
This 70 percent score represents a notable improvement from the previous audit conducted in 2016, where Nigeria received a score of 67.1 percent. The positive development underscores the nation’s commitment to enhancing safety compliance in its aviation sector.
The audit aimed to assess Nigeria’s capability to provide safety oversight by evaluating whether the country has effectively and consistently implemented the critical elements (CEs) of a safety oversight system, as recommended by ICAO.
Breaking down some of the audit findings, the NCAA received high marks in various areas. In Legislation, it scored 90 percent, although this was a slight reduction from the 95 percent obtained in the last audit. In the Organization category, it scored 83 percent compared to its previous perfect score of 100 percent.
In the area of Personnel Licensing, the NCAA scored 84 percent, showcasing progress from its previous score of 57 percent in Operations. The section on Airworthiness saw the NCAA earning 94 percent, up from the last audit’s 90 percent. In Accident Investigation, the authority achieved an impressive 89 percent, marking a five-point improvement from its previous score of 84 percent.
However, there are areas where improvement is still needed. Nigeria scored 56 percent in Aerodrome and Ground Aids and 44 percent in Air Navigation Services.
While the 70 percent score is encouraging, industry insiders believe that Nigeria can further enhance its aviation safety standards. ICAO has recommended State Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) to address identified gaps in the audit. Upon receiving the draft report, the State, represented by the NCAA, is expected to develop CAPs and upload them onto the Online Framework after the receipt of the final report.
ICAO stressed the importance of CAPs including sufficient details for the effective resolution of findings, identification of the Appropriate Action Office, and providing realistic estimated dates of implementation for all actions, whether short-term, medium-term, or long-term.
In essence, the audit’s findings have highlighted areas for improvement that should be addressed by the NCAA, with the CAPs serving as a roadmap for ensuring continued progress in Nigeria’s aviation safety oversight and compliance.