NIGERIAN Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) says the Federal Government has approved N28 billion for the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) upgrade this is just as the agency is currently upgrading control towers at four international airports in the country.
The control tower upgrade, according to the agency, is overdue as it was installed over 10 years ago to improve air traffic management.
Acting Managing Director of NAMA, Mr. Matthew Pwajok, revealed this in Abuja when he appeared on the Nigerian News Agency Forum.
Pwajok explained that Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) that was commissioned more than 10 years ago by President Goodluck Jonathan needed an update and that is why the Federal Government had therefore approved N28 billion for the upgrade of TRACON.
“They are in nine locations: Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Ilorin, Obubra in Cross Rivers, Maiduguri, Talata-Mafara in Kebbi and Numan in Adamawa. These teams provide full coverage of Nigeria on radar, so aircraft flights within the country are seen and controlled by controllers on radar.
“So the equipment is being upgraded to be in line with global standards and also in line with the expectations of increased traffic volume and increased flight safety and efficiency requirements.
“So this project is currently underway and we are conducting ground control and movement reconnaissance in Lagos and Abuja that will provide surface guidance for aircraft,” he said.
He said that once they are upgraded, there would be surveillance control from the departure gate to the arrival gate that would be fully automated.
He added that there would be an automated system that would sequence aircraft on departure, saying this would cut down on delays altogether.
“At the moment what we do is that the air traffic controller uses his criteria to determine which aircraft comes first.
“But the automated system is detecting the speed of an aircraft, the performance and the direction the aircraft is coming from and will now have an air traffic controller to sequence them on arrival.
“We are implementing it in Lagos and Abuja and hopefully this project will be completed as it is one of our key projects,” he added.
On upgrading the control towers, Pwajok said this was the result of a World Bank technical assistance program, a 2014 intervention program designed to provide financing for strategic capacity building in the sector.
He said some key experts have been identified and funds have been provided for training of air traffic controllers.
According to him, the trainings had greatly helped improve the specialization and experience of critical security personnel at the agency, adding that this had added value to the system.
“In our project, we currently have a secure tower project. In 2005/2006, we had some plane crashes. In 2007, the Obasanjo government implemented what we call ‘The Secure Tower’, which simply refers to the automated air travel management system at the control towers in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
“ Now these systems after more than 10 years need to be upgraded and currently that is what we are doing to upgrade the control tower at the four international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt. This is to align them with the right capacity, the right functionality and the ability to improve air traffic management at these airports,” he said.
The NAMA boss said that the agency is also implementing a communication system that would help improve the communication system within the air space.
He said the agency is currently implementing the extended range voice communication system for Lagos and Kano which would monitor Nigeria’s upper airspace.
He said that the agency is also implementing a communication system that would help improve the communication system.
Pwajok said that the country currently has a project of 13 modernized and automated control towers to improve air traffic control at airports, adding that similar projects have been completed in Zaria and Kastina states.
He said that the control towers had been integrated with metrological data where regular weather reports would feed into the system.