The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said that the fear generated by the Max Air fuel contamination at the Yola Airport by the public was justifiable as it formed a committee to audit fuel activities.
The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, stated this on Thursday in Abuja, during the inauguration of the joint audit committee of all aviation fuel activities in Nigeria.
Nuhu who was represented at the occasion by Director, Operations, Licensing & Training Standards, NCAA, Capt. Ibrahim Dambazau regretted the furore created by the serious incident but said the apex regulatory agency had put all machinery in place to prevent a recurrence.
The committee membership comprised major aviation agencies and oil and gas sector partners that were mandated to conduct a wholistic review and audit all fuelers, fueling facilities and equipment from the initial source of the fuel to the point of fueling into the aircraft to prevent a recurrence of Max Air aircraft fuel contamination serious incident at the Yola Airport.
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Nuhu said that the committee was also mandated to identify all the root causes of fuel contamination, and proffer solutions and recommendations that would improve the level of safety in the aviation industry in Nigeria.
Membership of the committee was drawn from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Department of State Security (DSS), Association of Aviation Marketers and NCAA.
Nuhu emphasised that the Terms of Reference (TOR) have been clearly spelt out to the committee and would see its members tour all over the country to ensure compliance with all regulatory and safety requirements.
The NCAA boss recalled that there had been a series of incidents relating to fuel contamination in recent times, especially that of Max Air fuel contamination in Yola, which generated lots of attention in the country and the world at large.
He, however, reiterated that the industry in Nigeria was safe despite the challenge.
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- He added: “I want to assure the Nigerian public and the world at large that the Nigerian aviation industry and our skies are safe as the NCAA has always been thorough in granting approvals in addition to our oversight responsibilities, which include surveillances and audits of all operators involved in the aviation industry to ensure the highest level of safety in our skies.
- “The authority has not been sleeping and have taken steps in the aftermath of the incidents, which included the investigation of all the incidents that have been reported, collaboration with sister agencies in the aviation industry like FAAN, NSIB, NMDPRA that issue licenses, and DSS.”
Nuhu maintained that the collaboration with NMPDRA since the incident occurred almost two months ago had yielded positive results thus far, stressing that this had led to the identification of all non-licensed fuelers and those with expired licenses in Nigeria.
He said this had led to the suspension of the violators of the fueling companies at all the airports in the country.
He also added that the NCAA had issued an All-Operators Letter (AOL), mandating every operator to comply with all requirements for fueling as approved, while it also increased its surveillance to ensure full compliance.
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Recall that a Max Air B737-300 with the registration number: 5N-MHM had fuel contamination in the main fuel tanks, leading to the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) shut down on the ground at Yola Airport on July 7, 2023.
Reports claimed that immediately after the aircraft landed at Yola Airport, fuel was dumped on the tarmac in Yola, while “multiple drums of water” were collected from both tanks of the aircraft, which had just landed.
The NCAA requires fuel suppliers to carry out what it calls a “water check,” using special strips that change colour when in contact with water.
The apex regulatory body had immediately grounded the airline pending the outcome of an investigation into the fuel contamination incident.
The agency also vowed to investigate aviation fuel suppliers in the country’s aviation industry to determine the source of fuel contamination and find out their level of compliance with industry standards on fuel supply.