The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has rejected the instrument landing system (ILS), which was acquired for the Akanu Ibiam International Airport.
THISDAY learnt that the minister rejected the equipment when he was informed by the officials in charge of installation that the ILS was not of good quality, insisting that it must be replaced.
Instrument landing system is a guidance type of navigation that provides an instrument-based technique for guiding an aircraft to approach and land on a runway.
It uses a combination of radio signals to enable safe landing even during challenging conditions such as low visibility.
Category 2 of the ILS was earmarked for the Enugu airport and it was expected that before the ongoing reconstruction of the runway is completed, a new system must have been acquired and installed so that the airport would be reopened early next year.
Reliable industry sources who disclosed this to THISDAY did not explain whether heads may roll over the acquisition of the poor equipment, but said the contractor that supplied it has been directed to replace it with the one that meets international standard.
“We wanted to use the opportunity of the reconstruction of Enugu airport runway to install the ILS but the Minister rejected the equipment when he was informed by the Director in charge that the equipment did not meet the standard quality and he said that the equipment should be replaced.
“He also insisted that any facility that would be installed at the airport must be of standard quality. He said he wanted to give the Enugu airport the same standard he gave to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. We just hope that the replacement will not further delay the reopening of the airport, but we appreciate the Minister’s directive that the right thing must be done,” the source told THISDAY.
The Enugu airport was closed in August this year for a reconstruction of its runway, described as death trap. It was expected that by the end of March 2020, the airport would have reopened. But THISDAY learnt that Sirika is concerned more with the quality of work being done than when it would be reopened.
However, THISDAY also gathered that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) would lose over N400 million to the closure of the airport this Christmas season.
Before reconstruction work started at the airport runway, few weeks ago, the facility was in a deplorable state.
The Minister had said he would have closed the Enugu airport immediately work was completed at the Abuja runway in 2018 and moved to rehabilitate the runway of the Eastern gateway.
But the state government was supposed to move host communities from the airport land where the runway was to be extended, relocate the market and remove masts from flight path. This was not done by the state government until the Minister threatened to close the airport middle of this year before the market was relocated.
The Enugu airport runway had technical challenges, which include water seepage underneath the pavement. That was what was responsible for the breaking of the surface asphalt.
For thorough overhaul and transformation of the airport into an international aerodrome that meets international standard and to enable bigger aircraft to land at the airport, there are facilities that ought to be installed, which hitherto were absent.
These include approach light at both ends of the runway, extension of the runway, installation of ILS and upgrade of radio communication, which has already been done by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Sirika, reportedly said he would upgrade all the facilities at the airport that do not meet his envisioned standard before it would be re-opened.