Monday, April 15, 2024

Fuel contamination: NCAA to partner FAAN, NMDPRA others to stop reoccurrence

Worried about the recent incidence of a safety breach where water was found in the fuel tanks of some aircraft, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has deepened its investigation into the incident with the view to establish the root cause of it.

The NCAA has also announced wide consultation with all relevant stakeholders to identify the gaps, close them, prevent future occurrences, and improve safety in the industry.

The Director General of NCAA, 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.

The meeting was held both physically and virtually.

The DGCA who chaired the meeting said the “fuel contamination is outside the purview of the aviation ecosystem that is why we have 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 had become imperative because of the noticed gaps due to lack of deliberate 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 would be part of a committee that would 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 the NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, said they were not treating the issue with levity as they had 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 added that whilst he could vouch for the quality of the Jet A1 fuel that was imported, he couldn’t account for what happened when the fuel left the fuel depot 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 had led to the incidents of adulterated fuel.

The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau 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 concerned 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,” Olateru said.

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 needed to develop safety guidelines on aviation fuel and publish this for the airlines to implement.

The Director of Operations, Licensing, and Training Standards of the NCAA, Capt. Ibrahim Bello Dambazau, in his closing remarks, said the issue involved was safety critical thus, the NCAA would 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.

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