The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has announced that it will begin the calibration of navigational equipment in the nation’s airports this Thursday.
This is coming after international carriers’ existing navigational aids at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport that did not meet the standard of operation (SOP) diverted their aircraft to land at neighbouring countries.
NAMA assured that it would carry out the calibration exercise efficiently and in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommended standards and practices.
A statement from the agency, signed by its spokesman, Khalid Emele, confirmed that on January 6, 2020, a British Airways London Heathrow – Lagos bound BA 075 flight was diverted to Accra, but not because its navigational aids were unserviceable, but for another reason best known to the airline.
“The reality is that our navigational infrastructure nationwide is not in any state of degradation. But, the facilities are operating optimally though they are awaiting flight calibration in line with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and ICAO regulations and world best practices”, the statement said.
It further explained that the idea behind the installation of Category 3 Instrument Landing System (ILS) in strategic airports in the country was borne out of the need to enhance safety, efficiency, access and seamlessness of flight operations especially, during the harmattan season
The statement further disclosed that the prevailing weather condition in regards to visibility in Lagos as at the time British Airways diverted to Accra was still within the 1800 meters permissible, while the airline’s requirement for visibility during Performance Based Navigation (PBN) was 1500m.
NAMA reiterated that the weather condition on January 6, was within the approved minimum state weather conditions for Performance Based Navigation (PBN) approach and landing on Runway 18 Right as well as Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach and landing on Runway 18 Left, which is 400m.
The statement noted that all other foreign operators, including Emirates, Delta, KLM, Lufthansa, etc landed on the same runway in similar weather conditions.
It, however, added that BA, despite the diversion, has since been operating into Lagos daily using the ILS CATII on Runway 18 Left (known as domestic runway) with the same prevailing weather conditions.
“Therefore, these diversions are avoidable based on existing facilities,” Khalid Emele stated.
The agency therefore reassured all airspace users and the general public that the Nigerian airspace remains safe for air travel even as the agency is working assiduously towards continuously upgrading its navigational infrastructure in line with ICAO Standards and recommended practices.