The Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, last Wednesday re-opened for normal flight operations, following the temporary closure of the runway and the airspace by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), as a result of the near-crash incident that occurred on Tuesday.
Also, stakeholders and airport users have called on the Federal Government and the agencies in the aviation sector to beam their search light on the activities and operations of Dana Air following series of incidents that have befallen it in recent times.
The re-opening of the runway at the Port Harcourt Airport last Wednesday takes precedence over the initial statement that the runway had been closed for flight operations. The Tide last Wednesday observed that flight operations resumed at 9.00 am, when other airlines began to land and take-off from the airport, including those of Dana Air.
It was gathered that an accident investigation team from the Federal Ministry of Transport and an insurance team from Dana Airline were at the airport very early, Wednesday for inspection, before the runway was cleared and re-opened for operations.
However, efforts to reach the Dana Air Public Relations Officer, Mr. Kingsley Ofangba on phone was not successful, to get clarification from him on the state and position of their airline.
However, some airport users at the Port Harcourt Airport expressed gratitude to God Almighty that no life was lost as a result of the incident.
They also asked the Federal Government and the agencies in the aviation sector to checkmate the activities of Dana Airline, saying that several negative incidents had dogged the airline in recent times.
In his reaction, one of the regular air passengers, Mr Kenneth Barile said “why must it be Dana flight every time? Two weeks ago, it was the exit door that fell-off on landing at Abuja Airport and now it is overshooting of the runway in Port Harcourt”.
Former Attonery-General and Commissioner for Justice in Rivers State, Worgu Boms in his own reaction, thanked God for not allowing any life to be lost in the process, but also urged the operators of the airline to be more safety conscious.
Also, a security operative in the Department of State Services (DSS), who did not want his name published also wants the Dana Airline to be properly scrutinised before continuation of operations.
It would be recalled that the Dana flight from Abuja last Tuesday at 6.50pm veered-off the runway with 49 passengers and five crew members on board at the Port Harcourt airport.
Association Seeks Review Of Aviation Laws
Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN), has called on the Federal Government to review the country’s aviation laws to improve the industry.
ATSSSAN’s Chairman, Abuja Chapter of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr Samuel Wuyep made the call in an interview with newsmen.
According to him, many of the laws operated within the aviation industry are obsolete and need to be repealed.
“Most of the laws we operate within the aviation industry particularly when it comes to enforcement are obsolete. We need these laws to be repealed.
“We want the government to enact the enabling laws, to repeal the existing laws so that we will have enough reasons, if not for prosecution, to deter someone from committing wrong doings.
“We are looking for the enabling law that will make, particularly the aviation security to be stronger so that they can enforce these law judiciously to the end.
“Penalties for wrong doing should be stiffer so that people will know that we are serious,” he said.
According to him, aviation is elitist and its standard is universal.
On airport maintenance, Wuyep said that the management of airports maintained the airport with the assistance of government, sometimes.
The chairman decried the call for concessioning of airports, adding that “there is no need for third party”.
Wuyep commended President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring continuity in the aviation sector by reappointing Hadi Sirika and restoring full-fledged status of the ministry.
According to him, the move is a right step as governance itself is continuous.
“The minister is proactive and is working very hard to ensure airport facilities are maintained.
“It is a thing of joy that such person is with us. We pray that the minister will focus on innovations and innovative ideas that will uplift the standard of airports.
“He has gone far on issues about safety and security before he left (his first tenure ended).
“I want to believe he is going to work on such things to advance our airports to be among the best in the world,” Wuyep said.
Stakeholders Want NCAA, AIB To Partner On Aviation Safety
Aviation stakeholders have urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to work together toward improving safety in the sector.
The stakeholders spoke in Lagos, yesterday at the Quarterly Breakfast Meeting of the Aviation Round Table (ART) which had the topic: “Advantages of Implementing AIB Recommendations”.
A former Director-General of NCAA, Dr Harold Demuren said both the NCAA and the AIB exist for the common goal of promoting aviation safety and preventing accidents.
He said Annex 13 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) empowers the AIB to investigate accidents and to make safety recommendations aimed at preventing its recurrence.
“AIB do not have the authority to enforce or implement these safety recommendations. They have to pass it to the NCAA which is the regulator of the industry, so that is why they must continue to work together.
“The NCAA, thereafter, will evaluate the recommendations using a risk-based approach and might decide to implement them partially or decline to do so, ‘’ Demuren said.
Also, , the NCAA Director-General, Capt. Muhtar Usman said that committees were set up by the federal government in 2014 and 2017 to look into the safety recommendations on accidents made by the AIB to the agency.
Usman, represented byNational Coordinator, State Safety Programme, NCAA, Mr Ifeanyi Okike said it was discovered that out of the 37 recommendations issued, 29 had been fully implemented.
According to him, two were partially recommended, while the NCAA declined to implement the remaining six because of the risks associated with their recommendations.
He noted that the leadership of both agencies would continue to collaborate to ensure the safety of the Nigerian airspace.
On his part, , former Commissioner, AIB, Mr Sam Oduselu said the bureau had improved the welfare of its investigators to ensure that they are not compromised in the course of performing their duties. Oduselu explained that the timely implementation of safety recommendations was very crucial, stressing that the NCAA should ensure that the recommendations are injected into the industry to enhance safety.
Earlier in his welcome address, Dr Gbenga Olowo, President, ART said implementation of the safety recommendations was crucial to the industry.
Benin Airport Prepares To Accommodate More Aircraft
The Manager of Benin Airport, Mr Olatokunbo Arewa says plans are on to expand the apron of the airport as more airlines commence operations in the state.
Arewa told the newsmen in Benin, yesterday that the airport management was making room for more airlines to commence operations in Benin, just as Aero Contractors commenced its activities in Benin Airport on September 16.
“We are expecting two or three more airlines to commence activities at the Benin Airport before the end of the year.
“So, we are making plans to expand our apron so we can accommodate two or three planes at the same time”, he said.
According to him, the airport has the necessary facilities for aircraft to land at any time of the day and the facilities are working well.
“We have the instrument landing system, distance measuring equipment, edge light, approach light and they are working perfectly”, he stated.
Arewa said three airlines were currently operating from the Benin Airport with each making two operations daily.
He said that one of the airlines had started lifting passengers from Benin to Dubai, adding that passengers going to Dubai from Benin do not need to travel to Lagos or Abuja.
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