Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has described the insinuation that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) neither acquired, nor installed the CAT III Instrument Landing System (ILS), as akin to calling a dog a bad name just to hang it.
The Nigerian aviation has been mired in crisis since the diversion of several Lagos-bound international flights to Accra, in Ghana because of the inability of the airlines to land in Lagos because of poor visibility.
The development has also left many Nigerians stranded in Accra because of lack of adequate flights to airlift them to Nigeria.
But Sirika said in an explanatory note following a meeting with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday that the CAT III ILS was not only bought, but was installed.
According to him, the CAT III ILS had been installed in both Lagos and Abuja and had also been calibrated.
The minister explained that after caliberation, some inaccurate readings were noticed in the CAT III ILS at the runway 18R (for international flights) at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, while insisting that Abuja did not suffer flights disruptions.
“Unfortunately, it was in the process of re- caliberating that the weather situation in Lagos changed for the worse, hence the disruption of international flights into Lagos. Some airlines opted to divert their flights to Kotoka airport (CAT II ILS) in Ghana, leaving innocent travellers stranded, when they could have easily diverted to Abuja (CAT III ILS), where flights to Lagos are regular,” he said.
He said the federal government due to its commitment to passenger security and safety, decided to upgrade key airports in the country to CAT III ILS, which allows flights even in zero visbility, unlike CAT II ILS where pilots can only land with minimum of 800metres visibility. He added in the note that the installation of CAT III ILS for Kano, Port Harcourt, Asaba were also pending.
“The weather phenomenon that reduced visibility at the International wing of the MMA is not unique to Nigeria. As this was happening in Nigeria, over 100 flights were being cancelled within the span of one week at Heathrow in London.”