“SAFETY IS A JOINT RESPONSIBILITY” -Engr. Kayode Isiaka Ajiboye (Director, Air worthiness Standards)
A rare breed Engr. Isiaka Kayode Ajiboye is a man who cannot be excused from any compendium on distinguished public servants of his time. His intelligence, integrity and industry have been his greatest assets. There is no other quality as essential to success of any kinds as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes anything everything. That sterling quality Engr. Kayode Isiaka Ajiboye Director, Airworthiness Standards (DAWS) sufficiently possesses. He is also an iconic example of a self-made man in the mold of Benjamin Franklin. They set a course for greatness and proceeded to work without rest until their goals became a reality. It was like a hen coming home to roost when on 2nd September, 2020 he was meritoriously appointed as the superintendent of the new-look Directorate of Air Worthiness Standards (DAWS). No other anthem resonates among staffers than it is an appointment well deserved and well earned.
Engr. Ajiboye (as he is widely fondly called by all) was born in Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State on the 11th June, 1963.The young Ajiboye had both his primary and secondary education at Ansar-Ur-Deen Primary School and Offa Grammar School, Offa respectively. He also attended the prestigious University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife) where had a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) Degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
His scintillating public service career began with the then Federal Ministry of Transport and Aviation as Pupil Airworthiness Surveyor in 1987. Before he later joined the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in year 2000 and rose through the ranks of the Authority to become General Manager, Airworthiness Standards in 2011, there was Federal Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA), Department of Safety Regulation and Monitoring (DSRAM) and Department of Economic Regulation and Monitoring (DERAM). That position he occupied until he was meritoriously appointed 6th Director, Directorate of Air Worthiness Standards (DAWS) overseeing fitness of all aircraft operating in the Nigerian airspace. He wears other caps fittingly besides his being a seasoned inspector with inspector credential. He is the chairman of the Disciplinary committee. This is in addition to his being Chairman, Flight Standards Group (FSG); an amalgam of Directorates within NCAA performing joint safety oversight responsibilities of coordinating, communicating and harmonizing safety processes.
If there is one other word that fits the persona of this man of distinction, Engr. Ajiboye it is performer. In the course of his eventful career, he has served in capacities too numerous to mention here. Among several others, he was National Coordinator, ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP); ICAO Certified Auditor (Airworthiness) for the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme Continuous Monitoring Approach (USUOAP CMA); Member, Nigerian Delegation at the ICAO 37th-40th Assemblies in Montreal, Canada; Chairman, Regulations Committee responsible for the amendment, updating and drafting of Civil Aviation Regulations in Nigeria; Coordinator, NCAA Safety Verification Team; National Coordinator, Banjul Accord Group Co-operative Development of Operational Safety And Continuing Airworthiness Program (BAGCOSCAP); Member, Organizing Committee for the 1st ICAO Meeting of Directors General Of Civil Aviation for West And Central Africa States; Nigeria's State Safety Programme (SSP) Unit; and the National Civil Aviation Policy Drafting Committee. Suffice to mention that these assignments attracted awards and commendations locally and internationally.
The Director has also attended many courses, seminars and training home and overseas. These include but not limited to FAA Course Instructor Effectiveness Training (International) at Ghana Civil Aviation Training Academy, Accra, Ghana; System Safety Course at University Of Southern California, USA; BAGASOO Inspector Training Records And Qualification System (ITRAQS) Implementation Workshop At Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Ikeja, Lagos; FAA Course 18710 ICAO Endorsed Government Aviation Safety Inspector (Personnel Licensing) International at Ghana Civil Aviation Training Academy, Accra, Ghana; BAGAIA Aircraft Accident Investigation Course at Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Ikeja, Lagos; FAA Course 15212001 Surveillance of Service Providers (International) at Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Ikeja, Lagos; FAA Resolution of Safety Concerns (International) Course at Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Ikeja, Lagos; UK CAA Audit Techniques Course at the United Kingdom; and ICAO PBN Operations Approval Course At Johannesburg, South Africa.
Engr. Kayode Isiaka Ajiboye is a distinguished member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE- Aeronautical Division) and Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN). He is happily married with four wonderful children.
The Regulator team led by its Editor-in-chief, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, Mrs. Adekotujo Carol, Mr. Ugari Chikaire, Mr. Salami Jamiu Adeniyi, Mr. Obasi Ugwumba, Mr. Adeoye Femi and Mr. Ogunmuyiwa Adetayo played guests to the Director in his Lagos office. Here is the excerpt:
Good morning, sir. Accept our congratulations on your recent appointment as DAWS. Please, can you tell how many Departments that make up the Directorate and what are their core responsibilities?
The Directorate of Air Worthiness Standard (DAWS) is structured under the headship of a Director who happens to be my humble self. The DAWS comprises six (6) Departments to be headed by General Managers. We have Department of Airworthiness Standard & Approvals (ASA) with a General Manager by the name of Engr. Maude Zakary; we have Department of Aircraft Certification & Continued Airworthiness (AC&CA) headed by Engr. Victor Goyea; and we have Department of Air Operator Certification& Surveillance (AOC&S) headed by Engr. Godwin Balang; there is Department of Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO) headed by Engr. Mohammed Kabir Sani.
Following the restructuring within NCAA last year, a new Department was created within DAWS for General Aviation. However, owing to logistic reasons the implementation did not take off when the approval came in last year. But a few months ago, the Director General (DG), Capt. Musa Nuhu gave approval for its implementation as a fully-established Department.
In other climes, General Aviation has always been the engine room to grow the industry. It includes the flying clubs, flying schools, private-category aircraft and such other endeavours outside commercial air transport; it does not include issuance of AOC. Therefore, there is Department of General Aviation. The sixth one is the Department of Technical Library. I would say it is like I'm the custodian but when you put it under a Directorate, it sometimes gives the erroneous impression that it was meant to serve that Directorate.
We are trying to do some sensitization so that other Directorates will know it is meant to serve all. Technical Library is where every staffer should go and source authentic information. Department of Technical Library is headed by a female Deputy General Manager, covering duty as Acting GM.
Those are the Departments under the Directorate. Essentially, as the name implies, airworthiness means airworthiness of aircraft. Within NCAA, the Directorate is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that all aircraft operating in Nigeria airspace (not just those that are registered) are airworthy. That is broadly our responsibility.
When aircraft are designed and manufactured, they are designed to some very stringent standards which are codified in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 8 which each contracting State or Nation(not all States as we have about 190+ ICAO members); only very few States are actually design and manufacture aircraft. During the design, (the manufacture, the processes, the quality, the control and everything), there is intrinsic airworthiness built into the aircraft to ensure that it is safe to fly; meaning it will be able to perform take-off, cruise and land without failure. We have what is called continued airworthiness as a part of airworthiness because after it is designed, after it is manufactured- if you see a particular aircraft (let us say 727-300, the initial one-the prototype is made and tested. In actual fact, a lot of tests are conducted; when you see an aircraft, the hours and the investments that go into the aircraft is very huge.
Once it is type-certificated, what now happens after that is that they now produce all the other ones according to the prototype. It means that they ensure that everything is standardized: the mode and method of producing each and every component is strictly controlled to meet the same specification with that original prototype. That is ensuring what we call intrinsic airworthiness. Continued airworthiness means that aircraft does not remain airworthy just because it was designed and manufactured airworthy. You must maintain it to be airworthy. Therefore, there are prescribed maintenance and prescribed ways to even operate the aircraft which is captured in the flight manual to ensure that the aircraft remains airworthy.
In a nutshell, that's our function; to ensure airworthiness of all aircraft-both Nigerian and foreign-registered aircraft. Some other things that we do which are related is that we are responsible for the registration of aircraft. Any aircraft that is going to be issued with a Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A)in Nigeria must be registered in Nigeria. ICAO Standard does not permit an aircraft to be registered in more than one country. So, if an aircraft is registered in Nigeria, it cannot be registered again in Ghana. If you want to register it again in Nigeria, such an aircraft must be deregistered in Ghana.
My Directorate is responsible for the registration; ensuring compliance with requirements; ensuring that we keep the register which is an ICAO requirement; the register of all aircraft that are registered, with all their details and whenever it is deregistered, or it crashed or it is decommissioned, all that information is domiciled with the Directorate of airworthiness; they are very critical data. Then, we do oversight and regulate Maintenance Organisations. Maintenance Organisations and Aircraft Maintenance Engineers are key to continued airworthiness. We approve Maintenance Organisations and it is part our responsibility to do oversight after approval.
We are also involved in Air Operator Certificate (AOC) certification. It is joint responsibility with Directorate of Operations, Licensing and Training Standards (DOLTS). We always form a team comprising DAWS and DOLTS to perform this task (Air Operator Certificate (AOC) certification). It is part of our responsibility. For post-certification, we have what we call Surveillance. When you give somebody a certificate, you must ensure that those requirements/conditions that they met when they were getting the certificate, they continue to maintain it and it is the responsibility of the CAA to ensure those requirements are being maintained continuously for as long as the AOC subsists. Recently, matters bothering on Drones/Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) are now added to our responsibility. We also do this in conjunction with DOLTS.
We are also responsible for its oversight; we issue what we call RPAS Operator Certificate (ROC) which follows similar processes as AOC.
Lastly, we have Enforcement. Any safety oversight or regulatory regime must have enforcement otherwise referred to as Critical Element 8 in ICAO Safety Oversight System. It is part of our function to identify; find out where there are violations and non-compliances with our Regulations; and when those infractions are found, we determine that it requires sanction or not.
One of NCAA major responsibilities as a regulatory body is to ensure the airworthiness of all operating aircraft, when can we say an aircraft is airworthy?
Airworthy aircraft is when it has been designed and manufactured in accordance with established codes of airworthiness (that is, in compliance with ICAO Annex 8) and it is determined safe to fly. Even when one designs and manufactures, one must still ensure that it is safe to fly. It is only after then that we can assert that it is airworthy. Again, we have what we call Continued Airworthiness which is ensuring that the systems, the components and the performance of the aircraft are not degraded from use or lack thereof. That's why whether you fly or park it, the aircraft must continually be maintained because if you park it and not flying it, you have to preserve it because of environmental factors. The cycle of pressurizing, taking off, cruising and coming down are how they are designed to last. But when you keep such aircraft without flying it, some seals, some bearings, etc become stiff which can result in an incident and/or accident.
Therefore, continued airworthiness entails maintenance. There are prescribed maintenance programme which are approved and that must be maintained….You will recall that Boeing 737 Max was taken out of circulation for quite a long time. It took a long time for it to come back; the airworthiness directive came up for compliance for the system to be made safer.
Can we assert that all aircraft operating in Nigerian airspace are airworthy?
Yes, my response cannot be otherwise. That is the core mandate of the Directorate I superintend. Once it is unairworthy, such aircraft will never be allowed to fly. That is what DAWS ensures at all times by what we do, including the issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A). We do just not merely review and audit, we do physical inspections of the aircraft to ensure that the aircraft systems are tested for the C of A to be issued. And then we do surveillance when the aircraft are operating because they may go bad anytime in the course of operation; the components or the entire system can go bad as it is a mechanical device which is prone to possible failure. That is the essence of surveillance that we do on them.
Though redundancy is built into the aircraft, within the limitation of what we call minimum equipment list, the operator is expected to fix whatever defect that may manifest before the next flight as there are indicators which should be checked regularly. At times operators exhibit unprofessional conduct by trying to manage few defects for few more flights; but we detect these things (wheels, tyres, brakes, etc) when we do our surveillance and ramp inspections. As a CAA you cannot be everywhere and know everything about an aircraft even while on the ramps 24 hours; you cannot be at the foot of every aircraft that is landing and departing because you can never have enough inspectors to do that and it is not required for you to be. Do you know the numbers of aircraft that are on the register of, let us say Federal Airport Administration (FAA) of United States that are flying?
Therefore safety is a joint responsibility that cannot be done by the CAA alone.
As one of the Directorates responsible for issuing Airline Operating Certificate (AOC) to prospective airline operators, what are the processes of issuance?
Airline Operating Certificate (AOC) has five phases: Phase One, Two, Three, Four and Five. Phase one is what we call pre-application phase where the intent of the applicant or the to-be AOC holder is presented. This is the phase we look into their general planning in terms of intended aircraft-type for operation, intended location of operation and kind of maintenance put in place for our review and acceptance. Thereafter, we set up a team to interface with the prospective applicant. The phase two is the formal application phase in which the applicant is expected to make submission of all the required documents (having been informed of the requirements during the phase one), manuals and evidence of structure put in place including employment of some mandatory required management personnel and other post holders that an AOC holder must have.
Phase three is all about detailed documents evaluation. This stage usually takes bulk of the time because all manuals submitted have to be reviewed in details. There are regulatory requirements for this manual; contents of which the Regulation also specifies. For instance, Part 9 spells out specific requirements as to what it should contain. The same applies to Part 5 relating to airworthiness of the aircraft and Part 7 relating to the aircraft itself. Hence, the inspector will take, for example Maintenance Control Manual along with what we call Statement of Compliance (SOC) to see if it is detailed enough. There and then he checks those entire things that are regulatory requirements in the SOC to ensure that the procedure or processes described in the manual are satisfactory.
If it is a procedure, answers must be provided for such requisite questions like: who is to do it? When is it to be done? Where? And how? These are the questions that must be satisfactorily answered with each requirement as prescribed by the manual. Man's hours that is involved is quite enormous.
Then we go to phase four, which requires visitation to the organisation to inspect entire facilities of the organisation; see how they have implemented or intend to implement those procedures; how they have established the offices; how they equip the offices; how they have provided tools (equipment) required and so on. This phase includes inspection of the aircraft to determine its airworthiness before issuing it C of A. At this phase we have to do demonstration flight as if they were already airline that has an AOC; they do some flights to some selected routes; they do some night flights with our Pilots and Flight Operator and Airworthiness Inspectors on board too.
Phase five is the conclusion of the whole process whereby the certificate and the Operations Specifications (Ops Spec) are prepared, reviewed, approved and signed. The AOC certificate itself is signed by the DG himself while some portions of the Ops spec are signed by me in my capacity as the Director of Airworthiness Standards (DAWS) and the Director of Operations, Licensing and Training Standard (DOLTS). Part of the phase five requirements is coming up with what we call post-certification surveillance. The CAA is supposed to develop a post-certification surveillance programme to be sure that those things demonstrated to procure the certificate are still intact in the next 6-12 months. We have a program that enables us to come and conduct maintenance spot-checks in which we check some things like crew currency, medical, etc.
What is the lifespan (duration) of AOC? If an AOC obtained and the operator does not commence operation, are there any sanctions attached?
AOC validity(lifespan) is 24 months (two years)and there is a sanction attached to its non-operation. In actual fact, we have a system and regulation in Nigeria that calls for renewal every 24 months. In some countries, they don't renew but in Nigeria it is two years.
What number of aircraft does a prospective operator expected to have in his fleet so as to obtain AOC?
Yes, the Regulation specifies that if it is going to be for scheduled operation, you must have three Nigerian registered aircraft that is suitable for the type of operation you want to do. Just like I told you about phase five of AOC processing, you would have told us your type of operation (scheduled and non scheduled). If an operator told us that he intends to commence scheduled operation, he cannot present unsuitable aircraft-type for the intended operation. That does not meet our requirement. You cannot hide under the requirement of three aircraft to go bring one aircraft that can do the operation alongside two Tampicos which is grossly unsuitable one. But for non scheduled operations, you require only one (1) aircraft.
Why is delay associated with issuance of AOC?
Yes, like I mentioned to you, delays come especially in phase three and sometimes phase four requiring detailed documents evaluation. Essentially, those delays can come from both the operators and the CAA. The readiness and the capability of the airlines to produce good high quality documents and manuals in quick time will determine how quickly the inspector will evaluate and approve. Therefore, if an inspector evaluates and finds that the manual is very substandard, invariably there are likely to be many deficiencies and findings that they need to correct; hence, he sends it back for corrections. It takes time to rectify and sent back again. Frankly speaking, as we speak, our inspectors are overstretched, involving in many things all together; as they are doing certification, they are engaged in surveillance; some are preparing for training while few are part of one committee or the other.
What number of Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI) would the Authority have in service to claim that we have them in sufficient numbers?
There is no black and white answer to this question because there are several factors to be taken into consideration when you are trying to look at your manpower requirement as far as these inspectors are concerned. Some of these factors include: how many AOC holders do we have? What are their sizes? How many aircraft do they have? Where are they flying to? How many aircraft are actually registered in Nigeria because you need to do oversight over any aircraft that is registered in Nigeria? How many training organisations do we have, that you need to approve and do oversight? How many maintenance organisations do we have, general aviation? What is their spread and the numbers?
Do we still carry out surveillance, en-route inspections as required as part of NCAA oversight function? If yes, why do we still have cases of unreported incidences?
We do; actually we have what we called Annual Surveillance Plan that includes different forms of surveillance activities. We have surveillance plan and in that Surveillance Plan, we have what we call plan-ahead, that, even the person you want to study is aware. And then we have some others that are unannounced. We have others that happen based on reported cases or incidents. There is no question about whether or not we still do surveillance.
Talking about having incidents, I want to tell you that we will continue to have incidents irrespective of how robust and/or extensive the surveillance is because your surveillance cannot be on every aircraft at every departure and/or at every arrival. Your surveillance cannot be on every Aircraft Maintenance Engineer that you have licensed. It takes what we call representative sampling whereby when you want to do ramp inspections, you just pick one aircraft out of the fleet for a day in a particular area. It means that you will look at seven out of 20+ aircraft within a week; and the rest you cannot cover them that week. It is not possible for a CAA to have inspectors' presence everywhere; it is not required.
The nation has over 20 airports, how do you carry out ramp inspections in all these airports?
With all sincerity, we don't and we cannot have inspectors at all the airports. For one, some airports do not witness much level of activities and as such, cannot justify having inspector stationed there. Without prejudices to any airports and authorities, let us take Akure airport as an example: how many flights go to Akure, Ilorin? What we do is we prioritize these airports based on the activities. We prioritize Kano, Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and Kaduna. As a matter of fact, I even have inspector in Uyo because there is activity there. On these airports we carry out regular ramp inspection. Even at the airports where there are no so much activities but under the regional offices, there are plans to visit them periodically for inspection; though it might not be frequent.
Do all our Inspectors have Inspector credentials? Do Inspector credentials have any form of categorization?
What we refer to as Inspector Credential is in the form of an ID that confers them authority to carry out inspection, to assess aircraft, airline facilities, maintenance facilities, etc by law, by the Act and by the Regulation. Your NCAA ID cannot and does not give authorization. This inspector credential is given to all inspectors once they are employed and they have completed their indoctrination training.
Are there conditions under which a waiver can be granted to an operator by NCAA?
There are different scenarios and a waiver is a broad language. Waivers can be granted when there is safety case; devoid of appreciable deterioration of safety. The Regulation requires that an aircraft must undergo C-check every 3,000 hours, 3,000 flight cycles or three months. The operator now is approaching that time line and he says he cannot do the maintenance now and that he needs to take it out for people to do on account of slot issues. Meanwhile, the aircraft does not have issues of expired components on it. But that the slot he gets is that he can only be attended to in May against 30th April. A call for extension is a waiver in a sense because the requirement is that such maintenance should be done on 30th April. This request can be granted when other considerations such as permissible aircraft redundancy and tolerance built-in. CAA can give as much as three months waiver but usually a CAA will disclose it as it is not by right.
If someone has an aircraft that the operator is allowed to do maintenance for an A-check with benefits of most of the required tools and experienced engineers. However, there is a particular tool that the operator does not have but another operator has and he can borrow/loan. The operator can write to request an interim approval to borrow. It is a form of waiver too. There are what we call exemptions, which actually go to the soul of the Regulation.
Sir, Is there any approved minimum age of an aircraft to be allowed for operation in Nigeria airspace?
What is reflected and captured in the Regulation is the age an aircraft can be registered in Nigeria, which is 22 years. There is a difference between an aircraft registered in Nigeria and an aircraft being operated in Nigeria because we have some aircraft that are not registered here but merely operating here. Aircraft of foreign operators are operated into and out of Nigeria. That restriction and limitation is in relation to aircraft registration. But we have issue with it because you can register the aircraft when it is 21 years 11 months and 29 days. You have still met the requirement for aircraft registration once other requirements have been fulfilled. Hence we register it today but tomorrow it is fully 22 years and the day after that, it becomes over 22 years. Our regulation does address that.
Therefore, that is a lacuna where NCAA and the regulation committee are looking at how to address this because, if the intention is that we want young aircraft being operated in our airspace, it means that if I register an aircraft here at age 21 and operated it for the next 10 years it will be 30 years old. However, let me mention here that airworthiness of an aircraft is not the dependent on its age. It is dependent on compliance with continuous airworthiness maintenance requirements of the aircraft. In other words, an aircraft can be 30 years and still be airworthy; the only thing is that regime of maintenance requirement for the older aircraft is more just like its cost of maintenance. Newer models and newer aircraft are more efficient; they burn less fuel and less maintenance-intensive. It is just like a new car which is very unlikely to give you much problem. The chances and intensity of snag, defects and component failures are lesser in newer aircraft.
But of course the position of the regulation and the law is that, even if an aircraft has a snag, you cannot fly it until you fix the snag regardless of whether or not the snag is recurring everyday. That is where the expensiveness of older aircraft start coming in together with the added pressure and tendency of the Nigerian operation to engage in an unprofessional manner; because the pressure of maintenance is high. So, that is what informed the idea of putting an age limit but we realize that it is not fair on the Nigerian operators.
What is Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A), what is its process and validity?
The Certificate of Airworthy is the certificate issued to an aircraft attesting that the aircraft is airworthy as at the time of the issuance. As I told you, there is intrinsic airworthiness which, as designed by the manufacturing processing, quality control and all, the aircraft is deemed to be airworthy. It is issued with what we call first certificate of airworthiness which usually would have been done by the State of design. So, if you have a Boeing, they will issue it export certificate of airworthiness if they are importing into Nigeria. Then when it comes in, we register and issue the certificate of airworthiness after we would have carried out an audit of maintenance records, components history, all the accompanying embodiments, modification, service bulletin, do physical inspection and conducted series of tests on some of the equipment and systems and then we issue it a C of A which is renewable. That is where the validity comes in.
For its renewal, the Regulation allows us to issue or renew certificate of airworthiness up to 18 months. But it means that, as an inspector, I have the flexibility to issue for less than that 18 months based on other considerations.
Does change of ownership of an aircraft affect its certificate of airworthiness issued an aircraft?
Change of ownership directly affects the certification of registration; airworthiness of the aircraft is to the aircraft and not to the owner. It is issued to the aircraft; having a C of A is not an authorization to fly the aircraft. It only means that the aircraft is airworthy; that is, it can be operated. This is where owner and operator come in. The fact that the owner has the C of A is not an authorization that you can operate it. What authorizes you to operate it is if you are an AOC holder, you must have a valid AOC and it must be on your Ops Specs for you to operate it. In the private category, supposing name of the owner/operator has been changed on the Certificate of Registration (C of R) (as both names of the owner and the operator are indicated therein), the C of A is still good to go provided an operator has not changed even though the ownership changes.
Sir, besides superintending a mega directorate following the merger of DAWS with General Aviation you are also the standing chairman of Disciplinary Committee; how have you been coping?
Well, I will say it is part of the job; though it requires extra effort in my time management. Being the Director of Airworthiness is full-time; the hours are not enough during the day to do the job adequately. However, as the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee I have the support of the Industrial Relations (IR) Unit within the Human Resources (HR)Department. Now and in the nearest future, NCAA needs to have discipline and enforce same among the workforce because it is on the downward slope over the years.
As the chairman of Flight Standard Group (FSG), it is over eight years of zero accident in all categories of commercial operations in Nigeria, what in your opinion is NCAA doing right?
I will say effective oversight; I will say enforcement action being applied where and when necessary. I will also say that the qualification process to get our certificates have been more diligent and more thorough. It is not a matter of people without requirements being issued the certificates like as though it is a gift. On a final note, I will say some measure of good fortune.
In the course of oversight functions and inspections, what kind of challenges do the Inspectors encounter?
With all sense of candor, the greatest and biggest challenge our inspectors have been faced with is from the owners and/or operators. Given that our operators and owners are all big men, they have the tendency not to want to comply with safety regulations. Most of the airlines are more interested in the commercial benefit: fly the aircraft until it cannot fly again; use the pilots until they are thoroughly exhausted; roster the Maintenance Engineers until they cannot find their way home; and so on. Those are the goings-on and the tendencies they have. And any time you want to insist on compliance with extant Regulation is met with resistance; some of them go as far calling your superiors to put pressure on you.
But we are lucky, we have a Minister and a Director General today who support and respect inspectors' decisions upon bringing justifications for taking certain actions-withhold an approval, outrightly withdraw an approval or to take an enforcement action. I must admit that the inspectors are constantly under pressure.
The other one is training, training and retraining for the inspectors to keep them fit. It does not matter where we can get this training done. We need to keep them up to date and improve their proficiency. Adequate training, we must give them; training has suffered sometime in the past, though it is being addressed by this administration.
In which areas of operation do you want NCAA to improve for better service delivery?
I think I will first narrow it down to my core mandate- in terms of safety oversight, regulation of safety of the industry and then I will talk generally about NCAA. First and foremost, the compensation and the motivation of the inspectors needs to be improved upon so that we will be able to attract the best and retain them after we must have spent enormous resources on them; because they are integral. Imagine a situation where I can boast of 40 qualified inspectors in a year after expending so much training them and the next moment five were attracted by the airlines that are ready to pay twice, three times what we give them here. The number drops and we start from zero again; we are left with only 35 which are grossly inadequate. We need to put the inspectors as priority because NCAA is set up primarily for safety and economic regulatory services.
So, if we want to deliver on that mandate, we need to work on that. For all members of staff, their working and environment condition needs to be improved, including even the compensation. We must provide the working tools for every staff- in the technical and non-technical directorates. This must be a given, stationery, computers, operational vehicles, etc. We must have discipline and inculcate discipline to improve and grow; when we have that discipline, we must have a robust system. We must have a robust system of rewarding excellence. And to sanction when people are not performing and are violating the rules.
What legacies will you like to leave behind as a Director?
I want to leave behind the Directorate of Airworthiness that has excellent work ethics; that has inspectors that are well trained, qualified and highly motivated to perform their assigned job. I want to have now and leave behind what we call a standardized system that if inspector A does a job and inspector B does that same job, the outcome/finding should be invariably the same. It means the processes and procedures are documented and that our inspectors are trained to understand and know what those requirements and standards are. I want to see a situation where everything is standardized, across board: whether you are in Lagos or in Kano or Abuja. I would have achieved my dream if I can leave behind a standardized system with fool-proof documentations and processes to ensure safety.
Hitting the home stretch, what is your general philosophy about life?
One of the things I hold dearly is fairness and justice; try to be fair and just to people and yourself. I think both concepts go hand in hand. I cherish positive work ethics and integrity: earn your pay (work for your pay).
How do you relax?
I'm a sports man. I love and play Basketball, Lawn and Table Tennis. But lately because of the raging pandemic, I stopped playing. Perhaps very soon I will resume; I used to play Basketball once in a week. I play Table tennis when time permits me at our (NCAA) Gymnasium. On other occasion, I like spending time with my family. I'm a good family man and I'm lucky to have them. In conclusion, I want to commend your team for having me and for a good job well done with the quality and level of your publication (The Regulator) which is a notch higher in the most recent time. I wished I could have more time to read it over and over again. I want to urge the team to keep it up. Once again, thanks for having me here.