As Nigerian airlines continue to see the importance of aligning themselves with global safety trends, it is commendable that most of them are beginning to avail themselves to the IATA Safety Operational Audit (IOSA) to enable them compete at par, in terms of safety, with other foreign airlines world over.
The IOSA Safety Audit, the instrument for measuring safety among airlines of the world, is not a criteria to end safety related issues or prevent air accidents all over the world, but is an audit that helps airlines appreciate the importance of airlines operational safety procedures and following said safety procedures to run an efficient airline.
Statistics provided indicate that the total accident rate for IOSA carriers between 2011 and 2015 was 3.3 times lower than the rate for non-IOSA operators. As such, IOSA has become a global standard, recognized well beyond IATA membership. As of March 2015, 145 (36%) of the 405 airlines on the IOSA registry were non-IATA member airlines.
IOSA is the global airlines standard aimed at reducing the number of overlapping audits by using a single standardized system that is accepted worldwide, what is this IOSA? What role does it play in safety? And are Nigerian carriers compliant to it and what benefits do Nigerian carriers stand to gain from being compliant? The audit throws up some important questions
What is IOSA?
The IOSA certification audit is an internationally recognised and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline. IOSA uses internationally recognised audit principles and is designed to conduct audits in a standardised and consistent manner. Airlines are re-evaluated every two years.
Any air carrier or business that supports air carrier operations that sees the need for improved safety and efficiency in any phase of its operations can benefit from an IOSA audit from international Airline to major domestic airlines; regional airlines. cargo carriers, Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) Providers to Corporate Aviation Departments and it covers corporate organization and management, flight operations, operation Control/Flight Dispatch, ground handling, engineering and maintenance; cabin operations, cargo operations as well as operational security
What Nigerian airlines are IOSA compliant and which ones are on it?
According to latest update from the world airline body, Nigerian airlines as Arik Air, Aero Contractors and Firstnation Airways have successfully obtained International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit Certification (IOSA)
It was also revealed that Medview Airline, Allied Air and Cargo services, Overland Airways and Dana Air were on the verge of attaining the IOSA certification, while another airline, Air Peace has done its last workshop but is about to be audited.
This disclosure came on the heels of a visit by an IATA team led by the newly appointed Regional Director for Africa, Tanja Grobotek, who paid a familiarization visit to the Director General NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman at the Aviation House recently.
According to Grobotek the IOSA certification is an aspect of the Abuja Declaration of 2012 that would aid produce safer skies for African airlines
Abuja Declaration is the outcome of a meeting held in Abuja, Nigeria from 16-20 July, 2012; aimed at fostering partnership around Africa and enhancing safety standards as well as implement all safety initiatives in the region
The Declaration focuses on the establishment of independent and sufficiently funded civil aviation authorities, implementation of effective and transparent safety oversight systems by all African states, completion of IOSA by all African carriers, implementation of accident prevention measures focused on runway safety and loss of control, implementation of flight data analysis and implementation of safety management systems by all service providers.
Grobotek established that IATA is bent on aiding more airlines see the need to join the IOSA registry as it would improve their chances of safer operations.
He said, “IATA remains focused on its commitment to actively contribute its expertise and resources to help African Nations implement the standards outlined in the Abuja Declaration. One such area is the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), a proven tool for raising safety. IATA has worked with a number of airlines in Africa to bring them onto the IOSA registry. Eleven have joined since the Abuja Declaration was signed, which means 31 airlines from sub-Saharan Africa now benefit from this rigorous safety audit.”
Nigerian airlines now have three added to the ranks with more on the way.
Sometime in September 2013, after the Abuja Declaration was appended to, the Director General of International Air Transport Association (IATA), Tony Tyler, visited Nigeria for the very first time during which he said that the Abuja Declaration has shown that African countries were concerned about air safety. He also commended Nigeria for having the political will to push through the agreement.
According to him, IOSA is making a difference in the continent and more airlines are acknowledging that and joining.
Tyler said,”It is clear that IOSA is making a difference, not just in Africa, but in safety globally. In each year since 2008 when IOSA became a condition for IATA membership, IOSA carriers have performed better than those that have not been audited to its 900+ standards. African governments have recognized the need to improve safety and the Abuja Declaration sets out a comprehensive approach to reaching world-class safety by 2015.”
I should take a moment to commend Nigeria for the important role that it played in building the political will to reach this agreement.”
He said that in airline business no priority is greater than safety but that Africa’s performance is well below what needs to be achieved globally.
“In 2012, African airlines had one accident with a western built aircraft for every 270, 000 flights. Globally, the industry average was one accident for about every five million flights. In other word, African aviation accounts for about three per cent of global traffic. Last year, it accounted for nearly half of the fatalities on Western built jets. While these figures are a shocking call to action, I must say that 2012 also gave us cause for optimism. None of the 25 IATA members in Africa; 17 in Sub-Saharan Africa and eight in North Africa had an accident. None of the 384 airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry had a jet hull loss including some three dozen carriers on this continent. “
Benefits of being IOSA compliant:
IOSA results in immediate cost saving in the short term, and great cost efficiencies through improved operations in the long term. IOSA becomes extremely important when an airline or air transportation organization wishes to distinguish itself by complying with this accepted global standard.
The audit provides a quality program under stewardship of IATA and continuous updating of standards to reflect regulatory revisions and best practices. The program also eliminates audit redundancy, reducing costs and audit resource requirements and has accredited audit organisations with formally trained and qualified auditors; accredited training organizations with auditor training courses and a structured audit methodology, standardized checklists
And the believe simply is that some of the impact of IOSA to Nigerian aviation is the assurance that airlines follow an international recognized set of operational standards, detailed information and assessment results, for complimenting the primary oversight of airlines also compliment existing audit programs such as Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft Program (IASA)
Why are airlines avoiding IOSA, what is the cost implication?
Registering for IOSA certification and auditing is not mandatory therefore an airline that does not have IOSA certification may have either failed the IOSA audit or alternatively chosen not to participate but there is a drawback as to become an IATA member, an airline needs to be IOSA compliant. Small regional airlines generally don’t do the IOSA audit purely because of the cost to a) have the audit conducted and b) to implement the likely required changes.
Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), on the IOSA compliance says that most Nigerian carriers are not planned for international operation because they are not, they cannot comply with the international safety standards as required by IATA.
His words, “Generally, most Nigerian carriers are not planned for international operation because they are not cannot comply with the international safety standards as required by IATA. Let us not deceive ourselves, a number of them are sponsored by political office holders while others sponsor political office holders.”
“Nigerian operators hardly comply with the national standards and get concessions sometimes to operate below the standards. These concessions they would not get from international regulator. Sometimes, you would ask why it has been difficult for the NCAA to enforce regulations compliance on some airlines or what has made the threat of sanctions of ministers of aviation ineffective on the operators?”
On cost implications on the IOSA on airlines, he said, “Cost implications for IOSA compliance will include cost of regular and periodic maintenance especially the mandatory ones which are offshore and payment are mainly in dollars. For the Nigerian carriers, lf airlines comply with regular and mandatory maintenance, and they are not indebted to the safety services providers like FAAN, NAMA and the ground services providers; if they pay the insurance premium on their fleet, pay their staff regularly and are not constantly indebted, they will make profits in kobo against the naira or cent against the dollars. But the Nigerian carriers’ operators in all these commitments still, are about how to make naira against naira or dollars against dollars. To make naira against naira or dollars against naira and dollars spent is to cut corners. To cut corners is to exploit the safety standards. That is one area that the NCAA and operators need to address in the economic regulations.”
As far as the rtd Group Captain is concerned, IOSA does not make economic sense to an airline that is not planning to enter the international market because the benefits are there if the airline is operating internationally.
“IATA has no much economic benefits if the airlines are not operating international flights. Aside from getting certified as compliant to the international safety standards as specified by IATA, the certification admits the airlines into commercial alliance with international carriers and also into the IATA clearing house; that means the airline tickets can be used or as an exchange on another airline of membership in IATA,” Ojikitu surmised.
How can government ensure that IOSA is sacrosanct in the industry?
Tyler during his visit to Nigeria called on African government to make IOSA mandatory stating that the more governments around the region made it mandatory the more it signaled Africa’s intent on ensuring implementation of the Abuja Declaration.
He said, “I will take this opportunity, with so many African governments represented here, to urge them to make IOSA mandatory. So far, Egypt and Madagascar are the only governments on the African continent to have done so. More governments joining them will send a signal that Africa is serious about the Abuja Declaration commitment. IOSA can assist governments in safety oversight, but it is not a substitute for effective safety oversight by civil aviation authorities. “