Posted by News Express | 25 October 2013 | 3,680 times
It has emerged that one of the major problems of ineffective maintenance of aircraft operated by some local carriers is poor inspection by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The regulatory body is reputed to have inadequate number of inspectors in its Directorate of Airworthiness Standards and many who are already on the job are old. Even though the old ones have the desired experience, they lack the motivation to work due to poor remuneration.
NCAA is believed not to be able to attract young, active inspectors because of the relatively poor salary designed for these inspectors. As such, it is only able to attract those who have retired from active service and lack the vigour to carry out the physical strain which the job entails.
The source disclosed that it was this weakness of the regulatory body that the Ministry of Aviation had taken over the planned auditing of Nigerian airlines with international organisation and described it as a vote of no confidence on NCAA.
“But I do not blame the ministry because some of these airlines have aircraft that have exhibited the consistent culture of technical failure. There is an airline, each of its aircraft has problems and the aircraft type is known to operate well in other parts of the world. So it is the failure of inspection that the same aircraft have undergone poor maintenance level in Nigeria,” the source said.
THISDAY learnt that since NCAA became autonomous in 2006, it had been unable to recruit young inspectors, train them and provide them the needed incentive to effectively carry out their duties and the consequence of this is that airlines are given the elbow room to cut corners because there is inadequate inspection.
An inside source told THISDAY that the former Director General of NCAA developed a culture whereby inspectors were asked to fund their training overseas and were paid back the funds when they return from the programme. But those, who were unable to do so were never allowed to go to any overseas training for that year.
The disadvantage of this culture was that those who could not raise the funds to sponsor themselves for training were left in the lurch without the needed additional skills, while those who could train themselves remain the only relevant inspectors, so the limited number of inspectors was further reduced by this system.
“Our airworthiness inspectors are old and have retired and now want to come out of retirement, so whatever you give them as emoluments they will accept. NCAA inspectors have failed over time to ensure adequate maintenance the fleet of the airline (name withheld) because the problem has nothing to do with the aircraft type but with maintenance which proper inspection can solve. But the inspectors are not motivated because people in supporting department earn more than they do.
“So the inspectors are not happy and the younger inspectors will not come because of poor welfare package and many of those in the system now lack the ability to go through the rigour the job demands. The former director general was sending the inspectors on training without funding, but those who were able to go with personal funds were paid. He was the one who started the huge debt profile in the agency,” the source said.
So until NCAA recruits enough number of able and relatively young aircraft inspectors in its Directorate of Airworthiness Standards, accidents may continue to happen as inadequate inspection and unmotivated inspectors would create room for some of the airlines to continue to cut corners.
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