How Many International Audits are Enough

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International Audits

Perhaps Audits by ICAO, FAA & EASA Should be Replaced by a Single Entity

Safety outing: NCAA set for FAA’s audit

Nigeria: FAA Reviews Air Safety in Nation's Aviation Industry

Pilots Union Worries Nigeria May Fail American FAA Audit

The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman, announced that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is re-assessing safety status of NCAA.

Captain Usman is aware that a Category 1 finding is important for his country’s aviation because it allows Nigerian registered aircraft to operate to the US. He added NCAA attained the new status in 2010 and retained it in 2014 after a comprehensive audit of the industry. It was his expectation that the FAA inspectors would closely assess his Authority’s Personnel Licensing, International Operations and Airworthiness offices in its comprehensive audit.

icao universal safety oversight audit programGlobal aviation safety is an important consideration in an economy which knows no borders. The International Civil Aviation Organization has at its primary function, the review of each of the world’s civil aviation authorities. It has a team of auditors who employ rigorous standards, the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program, to assess the competence of each sovereign’s civil aviation organization.

That UN agency perform these inspections of its Members and the Montreal body is governed by all of the nations. The lowest common denominator of these civil aviation authorities is not at the high end; consequently, ICAO is reluctant to downgrade marginal CAA’s.

The FAA’s IASA and an equivalent audit by EASA triplicate the basic determination of ICAO, perhaps with a little less reluctance to issue a failing grade. A recent grant by the FAA of Category I status raised the possibility that even its objectivity could be bent. So even their reviews may be flawed.

The NCAA probably does not warrant a 3rd audit by the FAA in seven years. The various Nigerian news reports make it clear that the US visit engendered a lot of preparation by NCAA and angst in the populace. As the article (above-linked) demonstrates the audit was a catalyst for the pilots’ union gripe.

The NCAA is the regulatory body for its country’s aviation. The Civil Aviation Act 2006 empowers the Authority to regulate Aviation Safety without political interference, but also to carry out oversight functions of Airports, Airspace, Meteorological Services, etc. as well as economic regulations of the industry. The Central African nation has more than 25 airports, 30 airlines, 590 pilots, 19 flight engineers, 258 air traffic controllers (ATC), 677 aircraft maintenance engineers, 1,103 cabin crew and four aircraft dispatchers.

Its airports, navigational aids, modern weather forecasting equipment and highly skilled professionals place it among the top aviation systems in its continent. Nigeria’s aircraft inventory is sophisticated with 737-700NGs, CRJs, 400/900s, Embraer Phenoms, Dash 8-400Qs, B777, Dreamliner B787 and Boeing 747-400.

ncaa international audits

The USOAP profile for NCAA evidences a CAA which scores above the ICAO average in most of the categories. [The ICAO audit was done in 2016.]

ncaa nigeria avition safety

Flight Safety, which has an exceptional reputation for objectivity, records a very good safety history for Nigeria.

aviation safety network flight safety foundation

The citation of the independence of the Foundation leads to the proposal that perhaps the redundancy of ICAO, FAA and EASA audits should be replaced by a single entity which is above reproach. One assessment would reduce the burden on the CAAs of preparing for the triplicate reviews. A truly universal audit by Flight Safety Foundation (or an equivalent) would eliminate the costs for the three governmental bodies.

A WIN/WIN/WIN option?


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2 Comments on "How Many International Audits are Enough"

  1. This is a point I tried to make when I was still in the Air Navigation Commission. When ICAO went from a “I came, I saw, I went home” kind of a public report, to one that outlined the problems identified it seemed the appropriate moment to have discussions toward that end. I did think that if the FAA decided to reduce or forbid a State’s airline’s entry to the US it might be necessary to have an FAA audit. I think that moment in time might have been too early to evaluate the ICAO program and gain the confidence necessary

  2. Jim Loos, thanks again for your insightful comment and great historical perspective.

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