Air Traffic Controllers Call for State of Emergency in Aviation

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By Chinedu Eze

Air Traffic Controllers ‎(ATC), who manage the radar and communication in Nigeria’s space, have called for an urgent improvement in controller-pilot communication and are asking the government to declare a state of emergency on air safety so that it would attend to the problem with the seriousness it deserves before aircraft start falling from the skies.

Poor communication in Nigeria’s airspace has remained an intractable problem over the years and has defied all efforts by the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to solve.

The controllers called the attention of NAMA and the federal government to this problem, following the poor communication between controller/pilot and controler/controller at the two control centres in Kano and Lagos.

Speaking at the 45th annual general meeting held over the weekend in Jos, the President of Nigeria Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA), Mr. Victor Eyaru, said poor communication has remained a nightmare for pilots and air traffic controllers, noting that its resolution would save the country from any embarrassment that could arise from the current epileptic system.

Eyaru recognised that the nation was passing through a recession, but said certain critical infrastructure that would need to improve and secure air services must not be treated with levity.

According to the NATCA president, the government should also rebuild the Kaduna and Maiduguri airport control towers, which were razed by fire in 2014.

Eyaru also drew the attention of government to the dilapidated state of the Abuja airport runway, describing it as a national embarrassment, adding that the runway deserved urgent attention.

He noted that the Chinese-financed terminal building under construction at the Abuja airport was not properly sited as far as aerodrome control is concerned and advised the government to review the location of the aerodrome control before commissioning the project.

Reacting, a source ‎from NAMA said that there has been effective communication between pilots and controllers, adding that the agency had not received complaints from pilots. He said, nonetheless, that efforts were ongoing to improve communication.

The source also said that NAMA has a tradition of working and improving on its system and that was why it had effectively carried out the duty of managing the airspace and had been commended by both foreign and local airlines in addition to international aviation agencies.