…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.
This report and rebuttal from NAMA is a total display of ignorance and is a shame in this day and age for head of an aviation agency to be mixing up PBN, Satellite Navigation, CAT II or III approaches. Now I see why we are where we are. Your forum is probably not enough for me to educate these people. Simply put, PBN specifies minimum RNP (Required Navigation Performance) between aircraft on-board equipment and the ground based equipment to determine accuracy level of Aerial Navigation (RNAV). RNAV transitions aircraft to Instrument Landing System. It is this instrument landing system that is currently being challenged by AON and other operators including foreign airlines that it is not capable or calibrated adequately to CAT II or III level to guide aircraft to a low enough decision height to a safe landing whenever the visibility is below 800 meters.
That is not the only issue. Our runways don’t have CAT II or III Lighting System, I am not even talking about proper markings, which they don’t have. There is no information to pilots on our runways to warn them how many feet of runways are left after landing in heavy rain or poor visibility, no center-line markings, etc. These are just a few to mention. Sometimes I wondered how we ever passed those category 1 audits. We need transmissometers to measure RVRs (Runway Visual Range) which will be controlling during reduced visibility and are more accurate than horizontal visibility.
The dumbest restriction in NIgeria airspace is that, “TAKE-OFF MINIMUMS SHALL NOT BE LOWER THAN LANDING MINIMUMS”. To a layman, what this means is that if your destination airport is open for landing, you cannot depart because your departure aerodrome is way below minima and is closed. Actually what the pilot would have needed is Take-Off Alternate and could have taken off, but no. We restrict ourselves unnecessarily, sometimes out of ignorance or because of our closed culture that fails to challenge why things are the way they are when there are better and proven alternatives. There is no reason for aviation to be stagnant in this country; we are not inventing a wheel.
Pilots are trained to perform LVTO (Low Visibility Take Off) and they can land in CAT II weather minima, even CAT III. The current aircraft operating in Nigeria are and can be certified for CAT II approaches, the pilots will be certified. They are already successfully performing the procedure in the simulator. It is a requirement for a successful proficiency check and finally the operations specifications for each airline will have to be amended by the NCAA for CAT II authorization after the airline’s successful demonstration. But first your equipment has to be CAT II certified and after that, watch the airlines move. They are in business to make money and hate to be tied down by mediocrity.
Again, I disagree, sir, the onus is actually on you and not on the airlines. I was stuck in Abuja on my way to Lagos on the 28th of December for over 6 hours because Lagos airport was below 800 meters in visibility and therefore was closed. Foreign airlines could not land or takeoff either because your ILS accuracy level is only CAT I, the problem is not specific to domestic airlines only as you have mentioned. I was again stuck in Port Harcourt on the 29th of December because Abuja was closed for over 4 hours for the same reason. I do apologize if I did not mention that I am a pilot of many years of experience including several years of work experience in the US and Europe where this preferred landing system is taken for granted.
We are a laughing stock, as the largest economy in Africa, for closing airports because of reduced visibility when there are available almost 50 year old technology that could have helped. We should not aggravate these problems by playing the blame game, rather we should proffer solution from a glass half full and resolve this perennial problem that has in the past taken the lives of far too many Nigerians. It will involve all the stake holders. The ball, nevertheless, starts from your court.
Hmmm.very serious issues here.the problem usually starts when those appointed to head these agencies (NAMA, NCAA etc) know very little or nothing at all about where they are heading.their appointments are political, so what do we expect? When issues come up, they defend their offices instead of addressing the issues! That is why they have finally agreed to come repair the runway at Abuja, in other to protect their positions( abi the runway issue na pilot cause am too? Abi RNAV go help dem dogde pothole for runway too)sorry o.I forgot to mention o; me not a pilot!