FG invests N30b to tackle Nigerian airspace challenges

 Airspace safety gets boost-Controller

 

The country may begin to witness improved air safety following the commitment of N30b by the Federal Government for air space infrastructure.

Director of Operations, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Lawrence Mathew Pwajok made the disclosure amid complaints about challenges faced by air traffic controllers and pilots while navigating the country’s airspace.

Not a few believed that the present administration had spent more than any other government in the provision of air safety tools to make the country’s airspace safer.

For many years, the story had been the same: Poor communication between pilots and air traffic controllers occasioned by outdated radios had raised concern over the danger of flying in Nigeria’s airspace.

Aside from that, many of the control towers lacked good facilities and one that conspired to make the work of controllers tedious.

 

Lagos airport control tower

This is coming against the backdrop of complaints by air traffic controllers that the nation’s airspace safety needed to be enhanced amid gaps inherent in the system.

Pwajok stated that while NAMA takes note of the complaints of the umbrella body of air traffic controllers, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), wishes to itemize the several ongoing and completed projects across the country’s airports aimed at safety, efficiency, capacity, and environment.

The NAMA chief stated that there is the ongoing deployment of surface movement radar and ground control system at Lagos and Abuja scheduled for completion by first quarter 2022, ongoing deployment of three-dimensional virtual tower simulators in Lagos and scheduled for completion by December 2021.

Also ongoing are deployment of traffic sequencing manager – arrival manager and departure manager with automated clearance delivery system at Lagos and Abuja scheduled for completion by December 2021, ongoing deployment of Wide Area Multilateration Surveillance System for low flying helicopters in the Gulf of Guinea scheduled for completion by February 2022. This project he said is worth over N3 billion.

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Others are procurement of two new mobile control towers delivered for Lagos and Abuja and commissioned in June 2021, worth over N1.7 billion, procurement of two additional mobile control towers for Kano and Port Harcourt scheduled for delivery by December 2021, also worth over N1.7 billion for contingency use.

Equally provided according to Pwajok are the automation of Katsina control tower completed in September 2020, automation of Zaria Control Tower completed in October 2020, procurement of new flight calibration aircraft delivered in August 2019, upgrade of Safe Tower Project at Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt worth over N13 billion, that would provide software and hardware upgrades including new voice communication and control systems and furniture, is in progress.

 

 

He reiterated that the project for the upgrade and automation of 12 control towers nationwide is also expected to provide voice communication systems, ATC electronic strip management systems in progress, and expected completion is in 2022.

Procurement of control tower cabins for five new control towers including Kaduna and Enugu airports are scheduled for completion by December 2021 with the factory acceptance test of the equipment scheduled for 20th – 24th October 2021 to be conducted in the United Kingdom by the Ministry of Aviation, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and NAMA officials.

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His words, “NAMA has successfully Installed Cat III ILS systems at Lagos 18R and Abuja Runway 22 in February 2020. The same thing has been done for Lagos 18R, Kano, Kaduna, Benin, Jos, Enugu, Port-Harcourt, Minna, Maiduguri, Sokoto, Yola, Akure, Ilorin, Zaria between 2020 and 2021. There is also successful installation of new Doppler VOR at Lagos, Kano, Jos, Maiduguri, Benin, Ilorin, Yola, Minna, Port-Harcourt between 2020 and 2021”.

“We concluded the recruitment of 40 air traffic control cadets in two batches currently undergoing ATC training at the Nigerian College of Technology (NCAT), Zaria. There are ongoing recondition and rehabilitation of the Total Radar Coverage (TRACON) expected to be completed by December 2021. Ongoing AIS Automation Project scheduled for completion by December 2021 with the VSATs installed in 24 airports and the ATS Message Handling System (AMHS) fully installed at Lagos and Kano to replace the old AFTN”.

Pwajok equally disclosed that Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) had been successfully implemented in 32 airports with RNAV approach flight procedures just as PBN Standard Instrument Departure Routes and Standard Arrival Routes (SIDs and STARs) have been implemented at Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt.

“PBN BARO VNAV approaches with vertical guidance have been implemented at Lagos, Abuja, and Kano, while Port Harcourt and Enugu are scheduled for completion by December 2021. We have successfully Implemented 20 PBN RNAV regional routes across Nigeria to enhance the efficiency of flight operations. We also have successfully Implemented 26 IATA requested Flight Plannable direct routes in Nigeria to enhance airlines Covid-19 recovery process”.

“There are a lot of things we have achieved. We completed on-the-job Training for ATC License/Ratings for over 200 Air Traffic Controllers on Aerodrome, Approach and Area Airways Radar and Non-Radar Control, trained 200 air traffic controllers and engineers on safety management system in 2019, conducted specialized training for air traffic controllers on PBN, air traffic flow management, Airport Collaborative Decision Making, Controller Pilot Data Link Communication System, and Strategic Planning for Air Traffic Management in Dubai, in 2020”.

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“There is the procurement of Search and Rescue equipment for Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Ilorin, Sokoto, and Maiduguri in 2020, just as we successfully conducted WGS 84 Resurvey at 15 airports between 2020 and 2021 to enhance the accuracy of terrain and obstacle data for the safety of flight operations”.

He further stated that the agency successfully reviewed flight procedures at 19 airports between 2020 and 2021 to enhance the safety and efficiency of flight operations, installation of Standalone Jotron Radio systems at Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt to provide backup air/ground voice communication system.

 

NAMA MD, Capt. Folayele Akinkuotu

The Federal Executive Council on September 3, 2019, approved over N13 billion for the upgrading of safe tower equipment in four international airports in Nigeria.

An air traffic controller who spoke to Aviation Metric on condition of anonymity said there is a remarkable improvement in air traffic management in the country with procured equipment, however, said more efforts needed to be done by NAMA to enhance safety.

Wole Shadare