NAMA takes workload off pilots, fuel burns, test runs, augments satellite navigation

  • System shortens flight time on Nigerian route by seven minutes



Nigeria’s airspace safety received a major boost as the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) test run the Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS). The agency successfully carried out the demonstration flight to improve the accuracy, integrity, and availability of the signal through augmentation of the satellite systems with its $8.5 million Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft.

The SBAS are used to enhance the accuracy and precision of an existing GPS system. GPS by itself isn’t sufficiently accurate to do things like help land airplanes or other applications where there is a need for high accuracy combined with high consequences for failure. Simply put, it means using satellite systems for air navigation.


The airlines are also able to save costs through fuel burns as the system has the capability of reducing flight time on some routes within Nigeria by up to 5-7 minutes.

The Managing Director of NAMA, Mr. Lawrence Mathew Pwajok said, “When an airline tells you their fuel consumption, you will understand and you multiply that by five minutes you will know how much it is. We also have the calculation which we can make available to you for different airline categories in fuel savings, time savings, and CO2 emission savings which is very critical. Environmental sustainability is very key in this satellite navigation.”

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 “That is one of the driving forces when it reduces flight time, fuel consumption, and CO2 emission. We have the calculation of the CO2 emissions and when I calculated the number of flights that fly that route and the number of reductions in flight time and fuel consumption, they act to give a quantum per annum on the savings for that implementation. Multiple over the years, maybe 300 flights through that route, you can actually see an amazing reduction for an airline.”

Speaking on the SBAS, the NAMA boss explained that Nigeria implemented the Performance Based Navigation (PBN), a satellite system for navigation, adding that the system allows aircraft to use satellites system and aircraft equipped with a global performance system to navigate or fly.

“What we have implemented at the moment that we have done in 32 airports including military airports and private and state government and federal airports is what we call performance-based navigation. It provides you with large guidance. For you to improve on the accuracy, integrity, and availability of the signal, we will now go into what we call an augmentation system. That is to augment what the satellite does”, he stated.

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“For a satellite to have precision, you need an augmentation that can give improved accuracy, the integrity of the signal, availability, and continuity of the signal to collect information from several signals rather than an aircraft using just one signal from a GPS to fly.”

 “It improves on the accuracy and that improves safety and that also reduces what we call control flight into terrain, rather than going left or right, it puts you more precise on the approach for landing. It enhances safety, efficiency, and capacity; reduces the workload for the pilot and the air traffic controller and then of course efficiency for the airlines. It reduces flight time, reduces fuel consumption, holding time, and turn-around time. In the long run, it improves on affordability for the airline”.

The satellite air navigation system is relatively a new concept in Africa. In the United States and Europe, they are already using it. In the US, they are using Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). Nigeria has a satellite in space that has the payroll for aviation use, communication, agriculture, science and environment, and others.

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What the agency did yesterday was to see how it could use the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) by collaborating with other European partners that have implemented it and doing a demonstration flight to see how they would use the aircraft calibration by developing the procedure that the aircraft will fly.

The aircraft has been given these procedures, we will be monitoring it on the radar to see how it is following it. The procedures have been imputed on the radar so the expected lateral and vertical movement are all inputted in the radar and we will be monitoring it. As the aircraft goes, if it deviates left or right, that will help us to know the level of deviation using the satellite. If it maintains precisely and accurately, that tells us the level of accuracy and integrity of the signal being received and how it can guide aircraft.

Wole Shadare


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