Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Captain Fola Akinkuotu has assured that his agency is already complying with the highest safety standards in the global aviation industry.
Akinkuotu, who spoke with journalists recently said that NAMA is aware that it supposed to provide quality communication, navigation and surveillance infrastructure, adding that the agency has to make sure that these facilities meet international standards.
In terms of communication, Akinkuotu stated that Kaduna did not have the manpower based on the services that they provided, but added that they are going to move Kaduna from being a station that closes by 6:00 pm to a 24-hour station.
“So, there was need for more manpower and the staff already existing there have to be trained again to meet the expectations of increased workload; and also to provide the tools that were needed.
The consuls that were needed were upgraded and installed. We made sure that the manpower was up to standard in terms of quality and strength.
The consuls that were installed were improved so that we had the right consuls. And despite the fact that they didn’t have the ideal conditions in terms of office space, Air Traffic Control (ATC) cabin, we made sure that we provided what was needed.
Then, of course, we had to tackle the issue of communication. And that involved training of people, providing the right equipment and increase manpower”, he said.
Capt Akinkuotu added: “Then, we had to look at navigation; however, navigation was no problem because in terms of facilities on the ground to pin point where Kaduna was, it was already there.
But, the approach into Kaduna for landing had been such that the instrument landing system there had been destroyed by an incident. So, since we didn’t have that and within the timeline we went and installed a brand new Instrument Landing system (ILS) there.
And installing an ILS, you can install something, but it has to be calibrated, so, we calibrated it.”
For the purpose of accomplishing the set goal, the NAMA boss said that the agency also installed a brand new Distance Measuring Equipment,(DME); and that the complete unit of the ILS, that were calibrated within that time.
“ we ensured that Kaduna measured up to the required standards in terms of navigation. And surveillance we ensured that we put in place the required overlap conditions such that Abuja and Kano could see Kaduna for the purpose of surveillance and radar guidance.
Apart from that, we ensure that our Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) system was recertified as accurate and as good.”
On training of personnel, the renowned aviation expert said, “We have done increased training for our staff on search and rescue. We have completed training for a lot of our management staff in ASCON (Administrative Staff College of Nigeria).
We invited US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to come and do a training here for our staff; and also from those of the West African sub- region on accident and incident investigation and interpretation based on air traffic management situations.”
He said,” We have improved in a lot of training; and we have provided opportunities for people to be trained. We are going to make sure that we continue to enhance training.
We are going to send people in the short- term to Singapore for training; we have sent some people to Kenya for training. Essentially, what we are saying is that we must improve training for our people so that they can be abreast of new technology and improve the quality of their work.
He said,“But what is not often appreciated sometimes is that some of this equipment that you put on the ground, they are equipment; so, they can get bad.
When we got here, the Ilorin ILS had suffered some damage resulting from fire; we made sure that it was restored and other stations, we did some work all over the country, improving and ensuring serviceability of navigational equipment. And we have plans to put ILSs, improve navigation in many of our airports.
“The only thing stopping us from finalising this is that they are budget-driven; and we are ensuring that due process is followed; and once due process is being followed in terms of budgetary allocations, we are going to move to these places,” he added.
On what NAMA has done in areas of communication, he said, “On the radios, again we are working on improving the radios and we have invited manufacturers of radios and those who have installed for us, PAC Aviation in particular.
As we speak, they are in the northern part of the country trying to make sure that the radios are doing well.
“And they will move into Lagos soon to ensure that we have improved radio communication facilities in the state. We are looking at the de-sectorisation.
Actually, sectorisation has always been part of the plan; but we have sectorised Kano; and we are going to sectorise Lagos into East and West. It will make the system more efficient, it will reduce the workload on the air traffic controller.”
On the surveillance aspect, Akinkuotu said NAMA is almost concluding their contractual agreement with Thales of France, which installed the TRACON (Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria) system at inception. This, he said, is something that has been in abeyance for two years, but within that time frame.