The Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (under the New Federal Ministry of Transport) continues its restructuring of the aviation industry, which has been plagued by reductions in operational aircraft as a result of the phase out of particular aircraft from Nigeria airspace because of old age and unavailability of maintenance parts and spares. The government of Nigeria has continued to set aside sums of money for the industry for purposes of efficiency for fiscal year 2010 for the aviation industry. Private airlines with U.S.-origin aircraft in their fleet (mostly Boeing 737s – 700, 800 series, Cessna/Citation, MD8 series and Bell Helicopters) cover the domestic routes, thus increasing the U.S. share of the aviation/avionics sector of the economy.
In response to two major air crashes in Nigeria during 2006, there has been a significant reorganization of this industry by the government of Nigeria. Top aviation officials who had secured their appointments with political connections are being replaced with professionals, even as the Nigerian government is grounding older aircraft. Airline operators (usually private sector driven) are being subjected to thorough inspections, repairs and maintenance routine/exercise by the regulatory body.
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which is responsible for safety regulation as well as economic regulation or the industry, has put many security measures in place, including procuring modern security and navigational equipment to improve safety in the major airports in the country. Navigational aids are also being procured for airports and airstrips across Nigeria with the objective of upgrading standards.
Recently, the Nigerian aviation industry recorded a major milestone as the country witnessed the first 24-hour full radar coverage of Lagos and Abuja International airports. This facility, according to the authorities, covers 65 nautical miles around Lagos and 40 nautical miles around Abuja, while radar monitoring covers 100 nautical miles (approximately 160 kilometers radius) around the two airports. Unfortunately, this radar equipment suffered a setback again when it recently malfunctioned.
The transport ministry (aviation division) is planning to fix, purchase and install additional navigation and landing aids for the airports across the country within a short period of time, as there has been an increase in air transportation in the country with more aviation companies joining the sector.
The year 2009 recorded growth in air travel as well as significant upgrading of ground support equipment at international and domestic airports in Nigeria. Recently, the Federal Government of Nigeria approved funds to purchase body scanners for all the international airports in the country.
These changes offer U.S. suppliers potential in the Nigerian market since U.S.-origin equipment is preferred by Nigerian importers of aviation/avionics equipment for performance and durability. Aviation sources expect a further growth in this sector in the next few years as more airline companies have shown interest and commitment to buy more aircraft.
The country is also working toward attaining the Category 1 status of the FAA of the United States and the NCAA is focused on ensuring that Nigeria achieves this status.
The country is also concluding plans to purchase and install wind shear detectors for the major airports in Nigeria.
With the government focusing more attention on new aircraft, safety regulations and monitoring the operations of airlines in Nigeria, airline operators are purchasing new and refurbished aircraft, leasing aircraft, and procuring spares, parts and services. In addition, there are a number of currently grounded planes that need replacement of engines, component parts and navigational equipment. Some airline operators, in anticipation of increased patronage, are seeking serviceable but reliable aircraft for scheduled flights and charter services to augment their existing fleets, and the U.S. aviation market is their preferred source. The NCAA plans to purchase and install additional navigation and landing aids within a short period of time for other airports throughout the country, as funds have been made available by the government of Nigeria for this purpose. Under these plans, ground-support equipment at international and domestic airports would be upgraded, and U.S.-origin equipment generally is preferred by Nigerian importers of aviation/avionics equipment. Aviation sources expect a growth in this sector in the next few years.