UNA Chairman wants NCAA to be more vigilant with oil marketers over aviation fuel contamination

July 15, 2023

The Chairman, of United Nigeria Airlines (UNA), Prof. Obiora Okonkwo has appealed to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to be more vigilant with the activities of oil marketers delivering Jet A1 (aviation fuel) to airlines in the sector. 

Okonkwo stated this over the weekend in Lagos following the serious incident encountered by Max Air over the contaminated fuel found in the tank of one of its Boeing 737-300 aircraft in Yola Airport on July 7, 2023. 

Okonkwo stated that enhanced vigilance by the NCAA would prevent such a serious incident, which led to the grounding of all B737 series aircraft. 

According to Okonkwo, the apex regulatory body had taken the right step to investigate the source of the contaminated aviation fuel in the tank of the airline. 

Okonkwo insisted that all industry procedures and steps must be strictly adhered to by all operators. 

Besides, he canvassed a pseudo-audit of the fuel marketers in order to ensure total compliance with industry standards. 

He lauded the current management of NCAA, led by Capt. Musa Nuhu said that the apex regulatory body in the sector had lived up to expectations so far. 

  • He said: “The plan to investigate the fuel marketers is a confirmation of all that I have been saying all along that we have an active and vibrant NCAA, which guarantees the safety of the air passengers.
  • “It can only take a vigilant regulator to observe when there is a problem and if they have gone as far as identifying with the supplier of bad fuel, we are happy with that development. 
  • “As for Max Air, there is nothing absolutely to worry about. It can happen to any airline at any time. If there are questions from the NCAA, it is left for them to give answers to the agency, which I’m sure they will do. The NCAA that we have now as led by Capt. Nuhu is one of the best in the world.” 

On the statement attributed to Nuhu that airlines and pilots are responsible for the quality of fuel dispensing in their aircraft tanks, Okonkwo said that this was in the interest of the airlines and the flying public. 

He said that this would make the operators more responsible for their responsibilities of ensuring safety and force adherence to Standard Operation Procedures (SOP). 

He, however, appealed to NCAA to put in place more acceptable audits on the fuel suppliers, stressing that the airline operators had consistently canvassed this position. 

Okonkwo also said that doling out N500 billion in palliatives to the less privileged as planned by the Federal Government may not be the solution to the country’s problems. 

According to the United Nigeria Airlines Chairman, the government should rather look at how it could use the savings from the fuel subsidy to strengthen business owners in the private sector to stimulate the economy and create wealth. 

  • “If the Federal Government can set aside about N250 billion for the aviation sector as soft loans, not grant or free money to the aviation sector, what it means is that there will be more aircraft, which can be deployed to some of the new routes. It can also energise and capitalise us going to the international routes. 
  • “The outcome is that there will be more people employed, revenue generated by the airlines and the government will make more money. Flying overseas will bring about foreign exchange earnings and it will reduce the pressure. By and large, it will help people who don’t have jobs.” 

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