Unveiling the Shadows: Illegal Aviation Fuel Marketing in Nigerian Airports

Unearth the challenges the Nigerian aviation sector faces with the discovery of illegal fuel suppliers at airports, the measures being implemented, and what this means for the industry’s future.

A Sudden Alarm

It was an unsettling discovery that rattled the aviation industry in Nigeria.

During a meeting on a seemingly regular Thursday in Lagos, the Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt.

Musa Nuhu, revealed a serious issue that could undermine the safety and reputation of the country’s airports.

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Amid a series of smaller hiccups within the industry, such as a report of contaminated fuel and a recent small plane crash in Ikeja, Lagos, the problem of illegal fuel suppliers operating at Nigerian airports came to light.

Identifying the Culprits

During a collaborative session with the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission/Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), this illegality surfaced.

The existence of rogue aviation fuel marketers, supplying substandard Jet-A1 to unsuspecting airlines, became a distressing concern.

These unauthorized marketers, blending into the normal operations of the airports, were flagged during the investigation for their involvement in four incidents of water-contaminated Jet-A1 fuel discovered in commercial aircraft tanks.

A Call to Arms

Capt. Nuhu revealed that the NCAA has a list of aviation fuel companies approved by the DPR, yet they discovered some current airport suppliers were not on this list.

The NCAA promptly informed the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) about the situation.

The key message from Capt. Nuhu was clear: “Investigation is ongoing.

We are working closely with the DPR, and we have a list of all DPR-approved companies. We found out that some were not approved.

We will communicate this to FAAN to ensure these services are withdrawn until they meet all requirements.

The issue of fuel contamination is not acceptable and no international airline has reported fuel contamination, but it’s an alarming situation that needs investigation.”

To address the problem, the NCAA and DPR closed operational gaps and formed a committee with representatives from relevant agencies.

They conducted a comprehensive system analysis to provide recommendations and implement measures to curb illegal activities.

However, Capt. Nuhu emphasized that the responsibility still lies with airline pilots to check their fuel.

Other Developments in the Industry

Amid these issues, Nairametrics reported that Capt.

Other industry developments include Nuhu’s explanation for the NCAA’s decision to raise the minimum number of aircraft required for obtaining an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).

Caution must be exercised to manage potential challenges arising from this change.

The NCAA plans to ensure that airline operators are more responsible in their operations, reducing potential passenger disappointments due to delays or cancellations caused by technical faults with one or two airplanes.

The NCAA believes that with a minimum of six airplanes, such issues would significantly decrease.

He expressed, “It is not only for new entrants, but the old ones too have a period by which they have to comply.

If everybody has one or two aircraft, we will keep having this recurrent problem.

We have to avoid that. People will criticize, but every country is different.

Recent revelations in Nigeria’s aviation sector highlight the importance of strict monitoring and enforcement of aviation fuel supply standards.

The commendable efforts of the NCAA and DPR are making progress in addressing the issue.

However, all stakeholders, including airport authorities and pilots, must take collective responsibility to ensure safe and responsible industry operations within the bounds of the law.

Given our unique history, finding appropriate solutions becomes essential for a successful future.

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What are the main concerns about aviation fuel supplies at Nigerian airports?

The Nigerian Government discovered that some fuel suppliers were operating illegally at airports, contributing to incidents of contaminated Jet-A1 fuel.

Who is responsible for monitoring the quality of aviation fuel?

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), in collaboration with the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission/Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), is responsible for monitoring aviation fuel quality.

What has been the impact of these incidents on international airlines?

While no international airline has reported fuel contamination, the alarming nature of the issue demands a comprehensive investigation.

Are there any other developments in the Nigerian aviation sector?

Yes, the NCAA has increased the minimum number of aircraft an airline must possess before being issued an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) to improve operational responsibility and reduce passenger disappointments due to delays or cancellations.

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