SIXTY PER CENT (60%) of fatal accidents in aviation in Africa are runway-related and so in ensuring safety on the runways, experts in safety want agencies in the industry to collaborate and imbibe the culture of sharing of information, this is just as the need to improve upon and upgrade critical safety facilities is also stressed.This is just as they cautioned that the harmattan season which is characterized by low visibility due to dust haze, fog and mist is approaching and have said, to minimize flight disruptions during the period, navigational aids, runway markings, airfield lightning must be calibrated to ensure they are working optimally and safe flights on the airside.
Speaking at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport 2018 Runway Safety Week in Lagos, with the Theme: Low Visibility Operations on the Airside, Importance and Consequences, the Director General Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Muktar Usman noted that in Africa 60% of fatal accidents in aviation are runway related.
Usman represented at the event by the General Manager, Navigation Services, Mr. Mathew Pwajok said this was why the Ministers of States of the African and Indian Ocean Region, in July 2012 meant in Abuja under the Ministerial conference and looked at safety critical issues and established what was now known globally as the Abuja Declaration of safety targets.
He noted that,”and very key among these targets is runway safety, must accidents that are fatal, they are either on landing or takeoff either as runway incursion, excursion and confusion”.
According to the NCAA helmsman, there were also concerns otherwise known as significant safety concerns that African region also had, and these had to do with,”deficiencies in air navigation infrastructure, it also has to do with effective implementation of safety oversight”.
The Managing Director, Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu represented by the General Manager, Technical Evaluation in the Agency, Mr. Bola Ahmed emphasized that NAMA had put several measures in place for the safety of every flights in the airspace and on the ground.
He observed that between 2015 and 2016, the then management of NAMA started working on how to reduce disruption of flight operations during the period of low visibility which was encountered between the months of November to February with the advent of harmattan.
” this period of the year is characterized by a drastic reduction in visibility sometimes to as low as between 350-450 meters, before the current review the minimal use to be 800 meters ILS operations and the minimum 1,200 meters for a VOR operations even at the best of times in most cases will not even be able to achieve all this and most of our carriers will be on the ground”.
According to the NAMA boss, this has ripple effects on the quantity and amount of revenue, they would have been able to collect, adding that there would be reduction in revenue generation with other attendant implications.
Since them, he added that, ” NAMA management has out in place a think tank, a thinking team in place to see the possibility of not only employing artificial intelligence if possible but equally seeing the possibility of using intelligent assistant so that we can see how we could minimize the effect of weather, the effect of low visibility on our operations”.
Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Engr. Saleh Dunoma while declaring the week open stressed that on a regular basis, runway facilities are maintained and upgrade, adding that officers in charge of these facilities were also trained to deliver safety.
Mrs. Victoria Shinaba Aba who represented Engr. Dunoma stressed that the Agency was a stickler to international standards and operating procedures and urged all stakeholders to buy in to sustain the zero accident currently being enjoyed in the industry.
Earlier in her address of welcome, the Team Leader of the MMIA Lagos Runway Safety Team, LRST, Mrs. Ngozi Njoku said the week was to create awareness a very clear statement that irrespective of one’s duty and job specification, all must embrace safety culture,” as the saying goes, safety in aviation is every bodies business”.
She noted that the theme for this year was to sensitize all aviation stakeholders on safety operations as the harmattan period approaches.
” we all know there has always been a beneficial partnership, sensitization and enlightenment for all aviation stakeholders in order to create safety awareness for all”.
Mrs. Njoku explained that the primary role of the runway safety team was to develop an action plan for Runway Safety, advise the management as appropriate on potential runway safety issues and recommend strategies for hazard removal and mitigation of the residual risk.
The Team is draw from all the agencies including pilots, local and foreign airlines.