Worriedby recent incidence of a safety breach of water being found in the fuel tanks of some aircraft, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has commenced investigation into the incident to identify its immediate and remote causes.
The NCAA has also announced wider consultation with relevant stakeholders to identify the gaps, close them, prevent future occurrences, and improve safety in the industry.
The Director General Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Musa Nuhu, gave this indication on Thursday in Abuja, during a meeting with all domestic/international operators, aviation fuel suppliers, and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA). The meeting held both physically and virtually was chaired by the DGCA who said the fuel contamination was “outside the
purview of the aviation ecosystem which was why they engaged the regulator of the downstream sector. “We have been in consultation with NMDPRA because they certify all the oil companies in Nigeria.”
Based on the sensitivity of the matter, he said the collaboration became imperative due to the gaps arising from a deliberate lack of collaboration between NCAA, NMDPRA, and FAAN on fuel quality monitoring.
He further noted that the NCAA, FAAN, NMDPRA, NSIB, airliners, pilots, fuel deport operators, aircraft maintenance officers and other stakeholders will be part of a committee that will be set up to ensure the aviation fuel quality is constant.
He said all “facets of the aviation fuel ecosystem must be investigated to arrive at the true situation” adding that “the investigation is not necessarily to indict anyone but to strengthen safety in the aviation industry.”
Captain Nuhu said aviation fuel quality breach has dire consequences and is multifaceted, international in nature, and not limited to scheduled airlines alone.
Speaking at the meeting, the Chief Executive Officer of NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, said they are not treating the issue with levity as they have launched an investigation into the matter.
“We are all stakeholders and travelers. We took this incident seriously. I directed my colleagues to trace the root cause so that whatever steps we will take, we will bring stability, confidence and improve the safety level,” he said.
He said whilst he can vouch for the quality of the Jet A1 fuel that was imported, he can’t account for what happens when the fuel leaves the fuel deport to the fuel bouser before fueling the aircraft.
He said he looked forward to more collaboration with NCAA, FAAN, and other relevant stakeholders to attack the gaps that have led to the incidence of adulterated fuel.
The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) Director General, Akin Olateru, said the issue was grave and must be thoroughly investigated taking into account all possible actors.
He noted that NSIB had in 2017 issued safety recommendations as it concerns aviation fuel following an incident involving Bel 427 of the Nigerian Police at the time.
He said the safety recommendation advised the NCAA to launch an independent investigation into aviation fuel quality in Nigeria. It should also focus on vulnerability and risks in the fuel distribution process and this should form a regulatory oversight mechanism that ensures the international quality of aviation fuel used in Nigeria.
He thus tasked the NCAA to step up action, oversight the aviation fuel and ensure it is of top quality.
The participants agreed that the NCAA need to develop safety guidelines on aviation fuel and publish this for the airlines to implement.
Capt. Ibrahim Bambazau, the Director of Operations, Licensing, and Training Standards is in his closing remarks said the issue involved is safety critical thus, the NCAA will leave no stone unturned to get to the root of the matter.
Participants at the event included representatives of ICAO, WACAF, BAGASO, IATA, NSIB, airline operators, oil marketers, NCAT, NMDPRA, and other industry stakeholders.