The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), in conjunction with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has commenced implementation of the Africa-Indian Ocean (AFI) Plan Aerodrome Certification Project for two of Nigeria’s 26 airports: Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja and the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos. These airports are believed to have been chosen for ICAO intervention due to their proximity to the nation’s economic and political capitals, respectively. In addition, Nigeria has the highest volume of passenger traffic in Africa, most of which is directed through these airports.
The AFI Plan, which was adopted by the 36th ICAO Assembly to address the safety status of aircraft operations in the AFI region, aims to: l establish and maintain a sustainable oversight system (eg, for infrastructure and capacity building); l assist states in resolving identified deficiencies within a reasonable period; and l enhance the safety culture of African aviation service providers.
Memorandum of understanding
On August 11 2016 the ICAO Western and Central African Office signed a memorandum of understanding with the NCAA and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). All parties agreed to ensure the certification of the Lagos and Abuja airports in line with the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices by May 2017.
While the AFI Plan will be providing technical support, the Nigerian government through its agencies – the NCAA, the FAAN and the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA) – must guarantee the infrastructure and skill set required to obtain the certification.
Under Nigeria’s existing aviation framework, FAAN operates the airports and is responsible for ensuring safety at all times. Under Part 12 of the NCAA Regulations, FAAN – as operator of the airports – must establish a safety management system and ensure that the airports meet the certification requirements of the relevant regulatory authorities, both local and international.
Article 1.4.1 of Annex 14 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation reflects the agreement of ICAO member states (including Nigeria) to obtain certification from airports within their jurisdiction in line with international best practice and the ICAO guidelines. That duty, as far as Nigeria is concerned, has been assigned to the NCAA.
NCAA certification process
The certification process, as stated in Article 12.3 of the NCAA Regulations 2015, is notably similar to the ICAO certification procedure. Like the latter, it lists the following as the necessary steps for certification:
- addressing the expression of interest;
- assessing the formal application;
- assessing the aerodrome facilities, equipment and services;
- issuing or refusing an aerodrome certificate; and
- promulgating the certified status of an aerodrome.