The officers of the Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) in the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) have decried what they described as grossly underutilisation of their services owing to the non-automation of the AIS system.
They made this known during a one-day lecture on the use of the AIS in the cockpit, organised by AIS personnel at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
The officials lamented that despite the importance of the automated system to flight safety in the nationâ€™s airspace, concerned authorities have not made serious effort to complete the automation of the AIS system, pointing out that the seeming attention being paid to the project is mere lip service.
President of the Aeronautical Information Service of Nigeria (AISAN), Babatunde Shittu said that the duties of the AIS include the collation, analysis, processing, formatting of aeronautical information and the disseminating of such information to pilots before they embark on flights, noting that this has become very difficult due to the manual process of doing the job present which runs against the grains of what is obtained in other parts of the world.
He said that if the system were automated, pilots would be able to get information real- time while onboard their aircraft while airborne; thereby eliminating the manual process and relieving the AIS officers of undue stress.
â€œWe are appealing to the government to speed up the AIS automation process. The project has been on for over 10 years now. Other countries of the world even in Africa like Kenya, South Africa and many others have long gone past the automation of AIS, what we are talking about here is software and this software is very important and without the software the safe landing of an aircraft is dangerous”
The guest lecturer at the conference, Captain Edemeka Umoh said the importance of AIS in safe flight operations cannot be over-emphasised, even as he disclosed that the data provided by the AIS helps pilots to make good judgment and 95 percent of the decisions during flights.
â€œAIS enhances safety, improve situational awareness, better economics, better alternate airports planning, reduces aircraft maintenance and reduces pilot cockpit workload. It makes the job of the industry easier because of the provision of accurate data,” he said.
Umoh observed that the way forward for the 21st century AIS officers was on the job training, which he called skills development, upgrade of AIS service delivery, automation of AIS and the upgrading of the department to a directorate.
Earlier in her address, chairperson, AIS, MMIA, Mrs. Titilayo Ayinde said that the AIS ensures that aeronautical data and aeronautical information necessary for safety, regularity or efficiency of air navigation are made available in firm suitable for operational requirements of the air traffic management (ATM) community including those involved in flight operations as well as flight crews, flight planning and flight simulators.
She called on the concerned authorities to see AIS as one of the most important pillars of safe and efficient air navigation, adding, nothing that it is a fundamental element without which modern flight would be all but impossible.