The Aviation in Nigeria is regulated by various laws and regulations. The primary laws that govern the aviation industry in Nigeria are the Civil Aviation Act 2006 (CAA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations 2015 (NCAR), with other ancillary legislation that will be outlined below.
Civil Aviation Act of 2006
The CAA (the Act) is the principal law that regulates aviation in Nigeria. Section 2 of the Act established the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as the principal regulator for technical and safety issues such as aircraft registration, air navigation services, aviation safety, and security, commercial air transport, personnel licensing, powers to investigate, aerodrome, and airspace standards in the aviation industry to conform with the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Section 1 of the Act grants the Minister of Civil Aviation the control and supervisory authority over Civil Aviation in Nigeria, and the Minister is charged with the responsibility of formulating policies and strategies to promote and foster sound economic policies to ensure the provision of efficient and safe services of civil aviation in Nigeria.
Section 27(3) of the CAA empowers the NCAA to ground any aircraft and take reasonable steps necessary, including the power to ground any aircraft and to seal the premises of any air transport service provider to ensure compliance with the CAA and other regulations.
Section 30 of the Act provides for the powers of the authority in relation to civil aviation which is not limited to the following;
- Powers for the registration of aircraft in Nigeria.
- For the prohibition of aircraft from flying unless certificate of airworthiness issued or validated under the regulations is in force.
- For licensing, inspection, and regulation of aerodromes, access to aerodromes and places where aircraft have landed, for the inspection of aircraft factories, and for prohibiting the use of aerodromes that are not licensed.
- For the registration of births and deaths occurring in aircraft and of particulars of persons missing from the aircraft, etc.
In respect to the control of air transports, Section 32 of the Act makes provision that no aircraft shall be used by any person in Nigeria for flying while carrying passengers or cargoes for reward, on such journeys or classes of journeys or for such flying undertaking for the purpose of any trade or business, except under the authority of and in accordance with a license, permit or other authorizations issued to him by the authority.
Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations 2015 (NCAR)
The regulation is to provide national requirements in line with the provisions of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and for the standardized operational procedures, equipment, and infrastructure. It also provides for a safety management and training system to conform to the standard and recommended practices in line with the Chicago Convention.
According to order 188.8.131.52, the regulations applies to all persons operating or maintaining a Nigeria registered aircraft; aircraft registered in another contracting State that is operated by a person licensed in Nigeria, and aircraft of other contracting States operating in Nigeria
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)
This is the primary government regulatory body that regulates aviation in Nigeria. The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is established to address issues arising from aircraft registration and marking, consumer protection, personnel licensing, airworthiness, etc.
The powers of the NCAA as provided in Section 30 of the Civil Aviation Act includes but not limited to;
- Registration and inspection of aircraft in Nigeria.
- Issuance, validation, renewal, extension, variation of certificates and licenses.
- Inspection and regulation of aerodromes and aircraft factories.
- For securing the safety, efficiency, and regularity of air navigation and the safety of aircraft and of persons and property carried in aircraft and from preventing aircraft from endangering other persons and property.
- For regulating and making signals and other communications by or to aircraft and persons carried in aircraft, etc.
The authority is empowered to regulate aviation in Nigeria without any political interference and perform other regulations in the aviation industry.
Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria Act 1996 (FAAN Act)
The FAAN Act was enacted to establish the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), as provided in Section 1, that is responsible for the following but not limited to;
- To develop, provide and maintain all necessary services and facilities at airports and within all the Nigerian airspace for the safe, orderly, and economic operation of air transport and other associated services.
- The authority is also empowered to provide adequate conditions under which passengers and goods may be carried by air and under which aircraft can be used for other gainful purposes.
- To charge for services provided by the authority at airports.
- To provide adequate facilities and personnel for effective security at all airports, etc.
The authority is also empowered under the FAAN Act to discontinue the use of an airport, subject to the consent of the Minister of Transportation as provided in Section 5.
The authority performs its statutory functions following the policy and guidelines of the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
Nigeria Airspace Management Act 1999 (NAM Act)
The NAM Act establishes the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) in Section 1 as the agency responsible for providing air transport services in Nigeria such as; air traffic services, airspace management, aeronautical telecommunications, etc.
The functions of the agency as provided by Section 7 of the Act are not limited to the following;
- Provide air traffic services in Nigeria, including air traffic control, visual and non-visual aids, aeronautical telecommunications services, and electricity supplies, to enable public transport, private, business, and military aircraft to fly as safely as possible.
- To provide aerodromes at all the major Nigerian airports, the navigation services necessary for the operation of aircraft and taking-off and landing, and integrate them into the overflow of air traffic within the Nigerian airspace.
- To require persons engaged in or employed in connection with air navigation services, to supply meteorological information for the purpose of air navigation as may be appropriate from time to time.
- To hold meetings with the armed forces on Nigeria's international obligations as they related to civil and military coordination, etc.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)
The Constitution is the highest law in Nigeria. It places aviation matters within the exclusive list, which implies it is only the National Assembly who can make laws relating to aviation matters in Nigeria.
Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) also confers the Federal High Court with the exclusive jurisdiction to hear all matters relating to aviation and the safety of aircraft.
The above provisions of the aviation law in Nigeria are not exhaustive, as there are other relevant laws regulating aviation activities in Nigeria. However, it is noteworthy to state the major regulatory body of Nigerian aviation is the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, which is an autonomous body. The agency comprises has made several regulations governing aviation activities in Nigeria.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.