- As NAMA set to spend extra N152.5 million on Jan 16 calibration
INVESTIGATIONS have uncovered that the $8.5 million King Air 350i calibration airplane acquired by Federal Government is seeming gathering dust since it was acquired in August 2019 (over five months ago) as the country is set to spend another N152million this week to hire a third party for the calibration of navigational aids.
This move will amount to a waste of funds especially as those responsible for ensuring the aircraft and crew are certified have failed in their responsibility to do so, putting additional financial burden on the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Federal Republic of Nigeria by extension.
Calibration is a process that ensures the safety of air navigation principally by conducting regular flight inspection, calibration of test equipment/avionics systems, surveillance of airspace systems, and certification of navigation aids/ associated facility in accordance with the stipulated procedures as recommended in ICAO document 8071, annexes 10 (vol. I & II) and 14 as well as NCAA regulations.
Last week a British Airways London Heathrow – Lagos bound BA 075 flight diverted to Accra after the pilot claimed poor visibility at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport a situation that may have been avoided if the Instrument Landing System(ILS) at 18R was calibrated,
Calibration of Instrument Landing System (ILS) are done twice a year-February and November, every six months because of the level of accuracy required; while Very High Frequency (VHF) Omni-Directional Range (VOR) is calibrated once in a year, and the radar system is once every three years. If there is repair work on any of the navigational equipment, or total replacement, it has to be calibrated.
Recall that in a bid to ensure timely calibration of Navigational facilities, stem the over $500, 000 bi-annual capital flight as well as generate some revenue in foreign exchange, Federal Government through the Ministry of Aviation, on August 29, 2019 took delivery of $8.5 million King Air 350i calibration airplane.
Nigerianflightdeck learnt that the Ministry department charged with the responsibility of ensuring the certification of the calibration equipment has not lived up to getting the aircraft certified as the equipment still sits where it is five months down the line.
Meanwhile, the ownership of the aircraft is yet to be clarified as the Ministry, Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) are at sixes and sevens on who has control of the aircraft.
NAMA is said to own the calibration aircraft as it is part of its NAFIS department, the NCAA has its name inscribed on the aircraft despite being the one to certify the aircraft and crew that will pilot the equipment while the document for the aircraft is indicating that the Ministry paid for the King Air 350i.
This is a conundrum that needs also to be clarified as Nigerianflightdeck gathered that the Ministry of Aviation retained the aircraft despite not having the personnel to maintain the equipment, while pilots for the aircraft, Capt. Jim Hassan and Capt. Barau Muhammed, already type-rated on the aircraft, and have flown it in the United States are instructors at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria.
A source who spoke to Nigerianflightdeck said the situation was a sad one explaining that the new ILS Cat 3 installed in Lagos ought to have been calibrated and the agency in charge expected that the aircraft be cleared and used for such calibration but due to the bottlenecks, 5 months after acquisition the calibration aircraft is yet to function.
“To be frank, maybe by the time the aircraft is released for use it will need to go for checks, NAMA probably depended on that aircraft for calibration, now if we buy that aircraft and yet we are paying extra to have equipment calibrated, it’s like double taxation. Someone needs to take responsibility for this revenue loss or things like this will continue and no one held accountable.”
As at the time of posting this report, efforts to get a responses from the Ministry has yielded nothing in form of a collaboration or denial.