Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has expressed optimism that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will renew Nigeria’s Category 1 Safety Status which enables her registered aircraft to fly to the United States.

A source from the NCAA told THISDAY that from the scores which the team made available to the regulatory authority, Nigeria passed the audit. He explained that the agency would wait for the official statement from FAA before making official announcement.

According to the NCAA source, under the present Director-General of NCAA, Captain MuhtarUsman, Nigeria has been able to scale through the audit successfully and that showed that the NCAA has continued to record improvement.

It was also gathered that Nigerian airports would be audited by the US Transport Security Administration in November this year.

Spokesman of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye explained that the airport assessment was not part of the eight critical elements audited by FAA when the team examined the industry a fortnight ago, noting that comprehensive audit of the airport would take place when TSA team visits Nigeria in November this year.

“Nigeria has done very well in this year’s FAA audit. In fact from the scores made available to us we scored very highly so we know we have retained Category 1 but this will become official when FAA issues their report. In fact, we scored 100 percent in legal compliance. Those who think that Nigeria will not scale through the audit will now be disappointed.

“The current Director-General has done very well and he has improved the NCAA. Don’t forget that it was under him that the last audit was conducted and we did very well. I wish to note that airport assessment was not part of the eight critical elements examined by the FAA team, but usually that is done by the TSA which normally comes around November. So I want you to know that Nigeria has retained the Category 1 Safety status but we must wait for the report from FAA before we make it official,” Adurogboye said.

The USFAA carries out the assessment of the NCAA’s compliance with section of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPS) as contained in Annexes 1, 6 part 1 and 8.

This includes general policies, procedures and definitions, approved maintenance organisation and flight operations.

Asurogboye said that FAA used the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) checklist and ICAO guidance material and the team also assessed the state’s aviation law, regulations and oversight capabilities in accordance with the eight critical elements as defined in the ICAO document 9734.

The team also assessed the Nigerian aviation industry on legislation, regulations, organisation, technical staff, quality and training, technical guidance tools, licensing, certification approval and continuous surveillance.

Part of the eight critical elements include Aviation Security Programmes and Regulations

This includes the provision of adequate national-level programmes and regulations to address national requirements emanating from aviation security legislation others include the provision of standardised implementation procedures, equipment and infrastructures in conformance with Annex 17 Standards (and security-related provisions contained in other Annexes).

A day after the audit, the Director General of NCAA, Captain Usman expressed optimism that Nigeria would retain the safety rating, which is considered critical in the aviation community.

The Category 1 is a very important rating in the aviation industry, which categorises country’s safety status in the air transport sector, but above all, it enables Nigeria and other countries with the rating to operate to the US with aircraft registered in those countries.

Nigeria secured the rating in August 2010 and has since retained the status, which upped the image of the country in the global aviation industry.