The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has disclosed that the airlines involved in the recent contaminated aviation fuel were cooperating with the investigation.

The PUNCH reports that the NCAA suspended all the Boeing B737 aircraft in the fleet of Max Air because of contaminated fuel found in them.

The Director of Public Affairs at NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, told The PUNCH in Abuja that there had not been to identify the fuel stations involved in the contaminated fuel.

He claimed that the process of identifying the fuel stations involved in the contaminated fuel was delayed due to the loss suffered by the owner of Max Air,   Dahiru Mangal,  during that time.

However, he said that the airlines involved were cooperating with the agency and taking the required steps.

He noted, “The fuel stations have not been identified. The investigation was slowed down because the owner of Max Air became bereaved, as his wife died. Just to put it clear and as such, we have to put our action on hold. However, things are picking up gradually. The airlines are responding to steps they need to take. The outcome will help us to decide on the appropriate actions going forward. Bear with us.”

According to Group Capt. John Ojikutu, the former Commandant of the Lagos Airport, airlines seem to prioritisze maximising profits over the safety of passengers.

He asserted that intervention from the regulatory safety authority was necessary to address the issues effectively.

Ojikutu emphasised that aviation fuel marketers should be subject to the same level of regulation as clearing and ground-handling service providers.

He added that there were over 20 fuel marketers operating at airports.

He questioned the agency that approved their operations if it was the NCAA or the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.

He said, “Reduce the number to not more than three among the major marketers only if you want safe air operations. Begin with the fuel suppliers to the foreign airlines that are not complaining about all this mess that is engulfing our local airlines.

“Are the fuel marketers not subjected to some level of safety regulations as the catering services and cargo handling companies? Again, I am aware that the NNPC, former DPR, once suggested to the NCAA and the marketers in about 2018 to establish a testing laboratory at the airport’s fuel depot.”

He said the marketers had complained about the cost, but wondered what the NCAA had done about that.

“I suggest the NCAA revives all the former AIB unimplemented safety recommendations on fuel contamination and ensures that responsible marketers are mandated to implement the necessary safety recommendations or stopped from commercial fuel services.”

Ojikutu stressed that while the faults and negligence of the airlines in checking their fuel supply must be examined, equal scrutiny must be placed on the supply chain and services provided by fuel marketers.

He mentioned that fuel supply to airports, particularly the Lagos airport, relied on tanker trucks since the pipelines from Mosimi in Shagamu were ruptured in 1992.

Ojikutu questioned who was responsible for checking those tankers before they were loaded with jet-A1 for airport supply.

He suggested that the NNPC should repair the pipelines and establish a direct link between the airport depot and the nearby Ejigbo depot, which would significantly reduce reliance on tankers.

Ojikutu argued that removing the tanker supply and utilising fuel station supply hydrants on the aprons would help mitigate fuel quality issues caused by the current supply chain.

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