It’s Illegal to Use Drone Without Legal License – NCAA

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In this interview, the General Manager, Public Affairs, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr. Sam Adurogboye speaks with OLANREWAJU BUKOLA and OLUWATOBILOBA OYENIYI on how NCAA is regulating the Aviation Industry in Nigeria. 

The recent weather disturbance and flight diversion raised uproar in the industry, what other measures have NCAA put in place for future occurrence?

Two things contributed to that incidence. The adverse weather was a major cause, although it has ended. It’s been forecasted last year as a result NCAA sent out three statements to all airline operators to take caution as well as put necessary measures in place in case of uncertainty.  Unfortunately, two other things within that week escalated the negative diversion experience for customers.

One of the components of the existing ILS (Category 2) developed fault which took some days to be rectified while the bad weather did not help matter. It should be noted that during that period, the category 3 was already installed but the calibration (Test Transmission) was in process then, so it hasn’t been used.

The International Airlines coming in to Lagos choose to divert, not that Nigeria asked them to, because Abuja Airport was available for them to land while looking for alternative ways to get their customers to Lagos. Before taking off, every Airline always files a Flight Plan showing all data information including Plan B for emergency landing or any unforeseen occurrence. With this Plan, the Airline is prepared and the Airport they are to divert to is aware they are coming. So, taking care of their customers is solely their responsibility. The bad weather is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, it’s a global issue.

For measures put in place; the good thing is, any equipment problem is always communicated to the world immediately through a channel we call Notice to Airmen. Controlled by NAMA, this is used to send notifications globally via satellite.   In Aviation, certain things are domicile such as the Airport lightening being controlled by FAAN.

How is NCAA regulating Drones usage in Nigeria? Is there any regulatory collaboration between Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and NCAA for this Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV)?

Drones are flying object; therefore NCAA is the body solely responsible for the regulation of drones in Nigeria.

But for its security purposes we all meet at the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). NCAA controls the civil aspect of drones but when it’s been used for military purposes, ONSA handles that. However, NCAA issued out license for security clearance to any drones intended for purely civil exercise. Such users apply for the security clearance from ONSA through the office of NCAA.

You must know that drone is an emerging technology and every country is just developing regulations for it as directed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). However, it is not left unregulated because under the Civil Aviation Act, NCAA is giving power to make laws. Now, we make use of the auxiliary laws for drones.

The regulation for the governing of drones activities is still in the process of room-making; ICAO is just developing theirs too.  But because it is now been abused and used for terrorism, ONSA have to come in so as coordinate it for national peace.

How does NCAA ensure that all drone users are licensed?

Of a truth, there are many users that are unlicensed, but NCAA has been sensitizing the members of the public on the importance. Any unlicensed drone user is an offender. You know, a lot has entered the country before attention shifted to it. It got stakeholders’ attention, when it interferes with a flight on air. It was formally used for fun and entertainment.

We are aware that people are a bit afraid of licensing, but it is necessary and compulsory for it to be done. It has become a law, anyone caught using drones without licensing it will be arrested.

Capital Flight in Nigeria’s Aviation Sector was placed at N360 Billion last year. How do you think this can be addressed?

I don’t know why there is lot of noise about capital flight. At one point or the other, we have Domestic Airlines that have been designated to go on international route. Some of them have not been able to take advantage of that.

Nigeria population is increasing and Nigerians travel a lot. Are we saying the Foreign Airlines should not come because we want Nigeria carriers to thrive? They were designated. It’s commercial, a private business at that. Are we saying we should create a law that will mandate Nigerians to only fly domestic airlines? Should anybody legislate travelers to take Air Peace and not Delta with their owned hard earned money?

That can only happen if the ticket was bought for them. If you want Nigeria carrier to take passengers, nobody has ever stop them from taking international route, they were designated. It is not enough to say they should allow take go international, if you want to fly international, it’s commercial, a private enterprise.

It’s all about customer relationship. If a customer is unsatisfied with the service rendered with an airline, you see the customer try another the next time.

So many things account for what people are talking against. If you hold down passengers because it is Lufthansa, Delta, Emirate airlines that are coming; who do we have that will take them.

The designated ones, how many of them are flying, how many of them have the capacity.  The international airlines are also into business, they offer rental services, they’ve invested, they’ve all. rendered services. Are we saying they shouldn’t get their money back?

Who stopped any from going to London. Med View was designated too, so if fly international and comes back to the country with its money, so are we going to call that capital flight.

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How is it Capital Flight? So we should ask Nigerians not to travel because it’s an international airline coming. This things affect all. United Airline stopped coming to Nigeria when there was issue with forex and accessing dollar was scarce then. These airlines paid different flight charges at each ports.

Things are evolving. Airline operators should upgrade their services to allow them form strong and trustworthy alliances with each other.  They can decide to collaborate with each other for different services. Domestic airlines can also diversify their services so as to take advantage of flying international.

Gone are those days when everybody travels through Lagos, then before anybody travels out of Nigeria, they have to come to Lagos Airport first, even if they are based in Maiduguri or Kano. Those times have gone, things have changed. It can’t happen again.

Until domestic airline operators upgrade their services to certain standard, International Airlines might not be able to liaise with them for healthy business transactions.

But how is the regulation favoring the domestic airlines?

Regulations are only meant to facilitate operators, we won’t help you run your airline business. If they want governmental support in any area, they can come to NCAA for discussion. We are open for discussion. We are here for each other, we can’t operate in opposition. We need them to exist just as they also need us to exist.

However , they should be ready to up their game. Let them do their business transparently, corporate governance. Transparent data for your national will force Nigerians to seat up. Our domestic airlines need to grow. They shouldn’t think that government will continue to pamper them with policies that will not be favorable to them in the long run.

The options are there to them to grow, the population is big. If they do good business, passengers will patronize them and not travel by roads, most especially with the situation of bad roads in Nigeria. The rate at which the delayed and cancelled flights are increasing is alarming. The operators need to put more effort in establishing good customers’ relationship and satisfaction.

There is no foreign airline without alliance such that they don’t take passengers to all countries of the world again. They concentrate on main places and pass over their passengers to another airline to continue the journey. This reduces pressure on their machines. The alliances are always formed with those they can trust and are compatible. One that will not abandon their passengers at the airport.  How many Nigeria airlines can align with each other?

We’ve been able to achieve flying safely and we will continue to work on that. The Nigerian airlines need to take advantage of options available to them. For a start, let them form strong alliances among themselves.  They need to grow to the level where they can handover passengers to themselves.

Singapore that is among the first five in the world has only one airline. The country itself has only two airports, one strictly for international operations and the other for local operation. They were set up with the support of Nigeria government.

Airports and Seaports are major point of entry into the country, what are the measures NCAA have put in place to curb Coronavirus coming into Nigeria?

We’ve ensure that all airports are well equipped for check so as to prevent those infected from coming into the country. One of the ways we try to fight the spread is to check through passengers travel history.

Thank God, today’s passport shows history of travel details so we take precaution from there. More so, there are lots of personnel at the Airport working for the good of Nigeria during this crisis.

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