…reveal N6bn, US$27m indebtedness by airlines
NIGERIAN Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has slammed domestic airlines in the country stating that they do not have aircraft fitted with facilities to align with equipment on ground to aid landing and takeoff during harmattan period.According to the agency, the implementation of Performance Base Navigational (PBN) approaches in 20 airports is also a system meant to aid approach in a season like this but that it was left for airlines to get the required equipment fitted into their aircraft and train their crew to take advantage of this.
NAMA has also revealed that it would have been easy to get some other facilities to improve air navigation if not for the gargantuan indebtedness of airlines to the agency to the tune of N6b and $27m dollars respectively.
Acting Managing director of NAMA, Engr Emmanuel Anasi disclosed this in a statement revealing that all the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) were working, while the agency has implemented the Performance Base Navigational approaches in 20 airports.
According to the NAMA boss, the PBN has been implemented in four major airports of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano in 2012 adding, that the agency has standard arrival route, standards instrument departure route for the four airports, making it the first in Africa to develop it.
Anasi said these procedures were designed to take advantage of advanced system to handle aircraft fitted with the capability of flying PBN “Onus lies on our domestic operators to get the required equipment on board to be able to fly PBN and also to train flight crew to also fly these procedures and also get NCAA approval to fly these procedures, the rules in NCAA requires flight crew training, aircraft equipment and then a flight manual”
He called on the airlines to be updated to be able to fly PBN procedures that uses satellite systems with higher level of accuracy and integrity in the system in terms of guidance for both approaching and landing which could be very useful in severe situations.
“In poor visibility operation like this, airline that are equipped with this capacity can take advantage of that. NAMA is also aware that our ILS need to be upgraded to the category that will be able to allow aircraft to operate at very low visibility like what we are experiencing. The category of ILS that NAMA has is capable of that upgrade”
“I will not say navigational aids are not working because before the dust haze, am sure they were landing and taking off in those airports. We quite sympathize with Nigerians at this very period ,we also travel and we don’t fly different aircraft and whatever affects the general public affects us”
He explained that NAMA generates revenue as long as the aircraft are flying and interested in the airlines flying.
Anasi, said NAMA in collaboration with the ministry of transport has acquired six navigational facilities for six airports which include, ILS latest versions, distance measuring equipment for six airports, Doppler VOR ,Very High Omni-Directional Radio Range, which guides the direction of aircraft.
He noted that NAMA would have performed more than what was on ground but for the huge debt owed the agency by same airlines stating that it was difficult to meet up with the provisions of the facilities.
According to Anasi, the airlines were indebted to the agency to the tune of N6b and $27m dollars.
In a related development, an aviation security expert, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd) has appealed to the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika to come to the aid of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) in the provision of acquisition of navigational tools to ensure airspace safety.
Ojikutu in a letter to the Minister, said he was worried about the myriads of problems bedevilling the sector ranging from perceived aviation fuel, foreign exchange scarcity, airlines recurring debts, problem of inclement weather occasioned by harmattan haze which he said has reduced visibility for pilots and poor navigational aids at virtually all the aerodromes across the country.
His words, “These are not natural phenomenon but man-made. Why should the major airports known to have been installed with Category 11 Instrument Landing System (ILS) remain closed to commercial flights because of 300 meter visibility if they were or had been regularly calibrated according to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations , NCARs and the NAMA operational standards and procedures?
“With all these problems, it appears your hands are full and you need help; that you must seek urgently before the industry collapses on all of us. I am worried and I believe you are too about the persistent problems in the industry but we both must agree that what has been happening does not put it in good light to the public and certainly not to the rest of the aviation world,” he added.
This came against the backdrop of call by airline for the upgrade or get better equipment , by upgrading the ILS facilities to Category three (CAT 111).
The carriers urged the relevant agencies need to invest in modern navigation aids and runway lights so that we don’t have to come back again next year complaining about the same thing as we have done for so many decades.