LAGOS, Nigeria — The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, has exposed a scheme involving unapproved Jet A1 marketers operating illegally at Nigeria’s airports and supplying contaminated fuel to unsuspecting airlines.
Max Air, a prominent airline, has fallen victim to this jet fuel contamination.
This unsettling revelation came to light during an investigation into the source of jet fuel contamination, as explained by the Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, in a Zoom meeting with aviation correspondents on Thursday, August 3, 2023.
The discovery was made in collaboration with the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission and the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR.
“The issue of fuel contamination is not acceptable; no international airline has also reported fuel contamination but it is an alarming thing that needs to be looked into. We have set up a committee comprising representatives of relevant agencies to look at the entire system and make recommendations. But, it is still the airline’s responsibility, the pilot to check his fuel,” Nuhu said.
The Director-General further revealed that the unregistered fuel suppliers were operating without approval and had been discovered through a list of approved aviation fuel companies provided by the DPR.
Some suppliers currently active at the airports were found to be missing from the approved list.
“Investigation is ongoing, we are doing this in collaboration with the DPR, and we have got the list of all companies approved by the DPR; we found out that some were not approved, we will write FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria) about this to ensure they withdraw their services until they meet all requirements,” he declared.
The NCAA is taking swift action to intimate the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, about these illegal operators and plans to bar them from the airports.
A reliable but anonymous source within the NCAA disclosed that the Authority had identified the companies involved in the recent sale of contaminated aviation fuel to Max Air.
“The three oil companies that sold the fuel have been identified in the course of its investigation,” the source stated.
This alarming discovery casts a shadow on aviation safety and raises significant concerns about the regulatory oversight in the Nigerian aviation industry.
Ensuring aviation fuel quality is critical to aircraft safety, and this incident has sparked serious discussions among regulators, airlines, and fuel suppliers.
In the same meeting, Capt. Nuhu also commented on the recent Jabiru Aircraft crash in Lagos, expressing displeasure over unprofessional comments about the accident and stating his confidence in the Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau’s ability to investigate the cause.
“I cannot comment on the cause. It is miserable, and it was just by the grace of God that it wasn’t disastrous. I have full confidence in the ability of the NSIB, people should avoid mere speculation,” he said, also defending the competence of the Director of Airworthiness.
The unfolding situation highlights the need for stringent measures to ensure the safety and integrity of aviation fuel supply in Nigeria, a nation heavily reliant on air travel for domestic and international connections.
It also serves as a stark reminder of the complex challenges the aviation sector faces in maintaining safety and compliance with international standards.