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Panel proposes 30 years age limit for aircraft

Posted by By Wole Shadare on 2006/01/17 | Views: 523 |

Panel proposes 30 years age limit for aircraft


THE presidential task force on aviation industry has proposed 30 years age limit for aircraft flying in the country's airspace.

THE presidential task force on aviation industry has proposed 30 years age limit for aircraft flying in the country's airspace.

The Sub-committee on Aviation Financing led by Mr. Tony Elumelu, in a meeting with chief executives of aviation agencies in Lagos yesterday also noted that for aircraft of 25 years to continue to fly in the airspace, it would have to undergo strict maintenance schedule.

He said it was time aged aircraft were phased out to reduce the risk of accidents.

The Presidential Task Force on Aviation Industry with Air Vice Marshal Paul Dike as Chairman was constituted by President Olusegun Obasanjo in response to series of plane crashes in the country in the last three months.

Former Minister for Aviation, Mrs. Kema Chikwe, had shortly after the crash of EAS BAC1-11 aircraft in Kano, 2002 pegged age limit for aircraft at 22 years and banned one aircraft owner.

Shortly after Chikwe's removal from office, the idea was jettisoned.

The policy had raised dust from stakeholders who argued that the age of aircraft does not matter, as long as there is periodic maintenance.

Elumelu, who is also the Group Managing Director of United Bank for Africa (UBA) explained that the task force had made progress in putting together short and long term financing options for the sector that will achieve facility upgrade and support for the local airlines operating in Nigeria.

The short-term and long-term funding options being considered by the task force according to him, were private sector-driven, seeking to limit government's involvement in the funding of the aviation industry.

Elumelu said: "From our experience, investors will generally be reluctant to part with their money unless they are assured not only of the proper utilisation of the money, but adequate return on their investment."

He expressed regret that the aviation agencies that would receive the bulk of the money that will be raise from the various financing options being earmarked were hardly in a position to provide such guarantees due to their current array of problems.

Elumelu lamented that the sector had been identified as a cesspool of corruption, stressing that the investor community was also skeptical about investing in a corruption-ridden environment.

"We are also made to understand that the debt profile of some of the aviation agencies is quite spurious and will not withstand the test of close scrutiny," he added.

The debt profile of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) alone is reportedly put at N7.2 billion while that of other parastatals are also staggering.

The UBA boss, however, called on the chief executives of the parastatals to work and co-operate with the task forces and to restructure and re-engineer their operations, admonishing them to resist the pressure to award contracts just for patronage, while focussing on revenue generation and debt recovery.

Elumelu disclosed that the task force would if necessary appoint independent auditors and consultants to assist with the review and restructuring exercise of the agencies.

He reiterated that it would like to receive reports of the ministerial audit / in-house teams appointed to carry out similar exercise in some of the agencies.

Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, said the authority would henceforth foot the bill of inspectors on inspection of aircraft abroad, a clear departure from the past.

He noted that airline are requested to pay for inspection fees into deducted account, rather than paying to some of its officials.

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