Minister Backs New Satellite Communication for Safe Flight Operations

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Chinedu Eze

The Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has commended the African and Indian Ocean Satellite Communication Network (AFISNET) for significantly contributing to the enhancement of safety and efficiency of air navigation within and across the African and Indian Ocean (AFI) region.

Sirika, who made the remark while declaring open the 24th meeting of the Western and Central Africa Satellite Network Management Committee (SNMC) hosted by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) in Abuja on Wednesday, revealed that the SNMC has commenced discussion on the feasibility of surveillance data sharing within the sub-region, especially with the “multiplicity of surveillance systems available within the AFI Region.

He said the SNMC has the immense potential for providing redundancy across neighbouring Flight Information Regions (FIRs).

According to the Aviation Minister, the objective of Global Air Navigation Plan is to achieve a harmonised interoperable and seamless global air traffic management system that would facilitate cost effective, efficient and economic international civil aviation, hence the need to sustain, expand and improve technology and capacity of the AFISNET to accommodate navigational and surveillance data sharing.

Sirika also declared that the ongoing Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) Automation project embarked upon by NAMA has delivered a Centralized Aeronautical Database that is being populated with data that would enhance seamless integration with other states or regional databases, even as he charged the meeting to “provide an appropriate forum for member states, delegates and stakeholders to benchmark, synergise, collaborate and cooperate in order to facilitate the seamless integration of our various systems for greater capacity across the entire region in the spirit of International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO), No Country Left Behind and Single African Sky vision.”

Also speaking at the event, the ICAO Regional Officer (CNS) at the Regional Office of ICAO for Western and Central Africa (WACAF) in Dakar, Mr. Francois Salmbanga stated that in view of the fact that AFISNET offers real opportunities for the implementation of the main components of Communication, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) systems to be required for the future aviation system, ICAO attaches particular importance to the AFISNET network, and pays much attention to activities related to its management as well as supports the various initiatives of states and organisations to find common solutions in a sub-regional or regional frame.

Earlier, the acting Managing Director of NAMA, Emma Anasi noted that several safety critical initiatives embarked upon by the agency in recent time were targeted at making the Nigerian airspace compliant with regional and international standards for the overall safety of air navigation in the country as well as within the AFI region.

He said following the persistent deficiencies noticed in the provision of Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Services in Western and Central Africa, AFISNET was established in 1994 to create a reliable aeronautical telecommunication backbone that would facilitate regional integration through the provision of a channel for direct vocal communication between air traffic controllers for the coordination of movement of aircraft and exchange of flight, aeronautical, search and rescue as well as meteorological information.