It has been projected that the total cost of the planned upgrade of landing facilities including instrument landing system, (ILS) installation of airfield lighting, uninterrupted electricity supply, automation of aeronautical information service as well as radio communication would cost the federal government about N35billion.
The Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika stated recently at the College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria that airlines would not cancel flights due to Harmattan haze anymore as the federal government plans to install Category two ILS in many of the airports to enable flights operate in low visibility during the dusty Harmattan season.
Only two commercial flights operated from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on December 22, 2016 due to the Harmattan haze.
But an informed source from one of the agencies told THISDAY that installation of such landing aids and other equipment needed, could gulp as much as N35 billion. This he said is aside equipment upgrading by airlines and training of their pilot who would undergo currency lessons on how to operate under the new ILS Category two regime.
So far, only Kaduna airport has got the Category two ILS but government plans to install them in other major airports, including Kano, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Jos and Enugu.
A source in the aviation industry confirmed the proposed installation of the equipment, which would enable airlines land at low visibility in Nigeria but stated that it would take some time as the fund for such huge project has to be budgeted for.
This, according to the source, is because the equipment has to be ordered and it would take some time to manufacture them and ship them to the country for installation.
THISDAY learnt that the federal government through NAMA has ordered some of this equipment, while the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) would see to the installation and upgrade of airfield lighting at some of the airports.
â€œYes, government is determined to ensure that the equipment is installed and before the end of this year we shall make sure that we install the equipment at five airports, but we have to get the equipment on the budget; it has to be signed and passed and money has to be made available. We are determined to achieve this but do not expect miracles. We have already finished the installation in Kaduna; the next airport is Kano,â€ the source told THISDAY.
He explained that although government was determined to improve the landing system at the airports but there are other corresponding requirements that must be fulfilled by other aviation agencies and the airlines, noting that a Category two ILS needs uninterrupted electricity and also corresponding equipment in the aircraft, which would enable the pilot to utilise the ground equipment.
â€œThere are certain infrastructures that would go with the Category two ILS, which must be provided and these include approach light; the airplane must have the right equipment to be able to land in very low visibility and the pilots have to get the currency that would enable them to effectively operate and land in low visibility,â€ the source stressed.
He also noted that for the new landing system to work effectively, â€œthere must be perimeter fencing at all the airports where the equipment would be installed; there must be uninterrupted power supply; there must be approach light as mentioned earlier, then the corresponding equipment in the aircraft.â€
He added: â€œWe are working together to ensure that we achieve these set goals. Government is determined to ensure that the problems caused by obsolete landing aids are put behind us; we are even complying with the executive order given recently by the federal government.â€