Enhancing Aeronautical Services in Nigeria’s Airspace

Chinedu Eze

There is no doubt that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has contributed immensely in safe flight operation in Nigeria.

Industry observers say the federal government has shown a lot of commitment in the continuous investment in the agency, ensuring that it upgrades its facilities and equipment to meet the critical changes in aviation development as it concerns aeronautical services.

The agency, which also depends on its earnings to fund many of its activities, has also upped the exploitation of revenue sources, especially over fliers from international carriers.  

This explains why NAMA has been deeply involved in development projects like the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) maintenance support services agreement, Total VHF Coverage project, Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) automation project, renovation of control tower and replacement of Voice Communication and Control System (VCCS) console, procurement and installation of solar energy, installation of Satellite Communication, World Geodetic Survey (WGS-84), Instrument Landing System (ILS), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICA0) flight plan and many others.

There are indications that a lot of changes happen in airspace development so there are a lot of advancement in that sub-sector and any country that does not want to be left behind must speed to meet up with the new development and advancements, all aimed at enhancing safety and making it easier for airspace managers to do their work with greater efficiency.

Recently at the 26 League of Aviation and Airport Correspondent (LAAC) seminar held in Lagos, the acting Managing Director of the agency, Matthew Lawrence Pwajok, spoke on the latest projects being handled by the agency.

“Our basic attention or focus at the moment had been to complete some very critical projects that are very, very essential for safety, for enhancing capacity and efficiency of the system. These projects include, the Safe Tower. The Safe Tower was done in 2007 and the system needed it to be upgraded. So we are embarking on the software and the hardware upgrade of this safe Tower Project, which provides an automated air traffic management system for Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt. It is a very critical project to expand the ATM (Air Traffic Management) capacity and enhance the efficiency of the air traffic management system.

“The other project is the Total Radar Coverage upgrade. You are also aware that was commissioned in 2010 and over 10 years of using the same system, we are upgrading it to the latest version called the Top Sky System. And that project will provide for enhancement of the efficiency in the capacity and the effectiveness of the total radar coverage in Nigeria in nine radar locations nationwide,” he said.

Pwajok explained that the project was also very key, not only to safety, but also security of the nation. 

“And we also have navigational systems we are installing. At the moment we have done over 10 airports with instrument landing systems category two, and we have done instrument landing system category three in Lagos and Abuja. We are currently doing Katsina, Port Harcourt and Kano with instrument landing system CAT3. The other project is the AIS automation that has been ongoing for a long time. We are hoping to complete at least by the end of the year. It is the automation of the information management system for 24 airports and also NAMA headquarters,” he said.

The NAMA boss said that all federal and state government owned airports in the country have approach and landing navigational aids, as well as Satellite Based Performance Based Navigation procedures that can enable aircraft operate at any time of the day into these airports. In other words, NAMA facilities are ready for flight operations to many airports in the country at anytime; so it provides 24 hours aeronautical equipment services to these airports.

“All airports in Nigeria have instrument landing facilities for approach and landing, meaning they are operating based on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and not based on Visual Flight Rules (VFR) where they pilots are required to visually approach and land within Sunrise to Sunset time. Apart from one or two private aerodromes, all federal and state government owned airports managed by NAMA are equipped with Instrument Landing System (ILS), except where they are temporarily unserviceable or the Runway and Approach lights are unserviceable, but nevertheless you cannot refer to them as sunrise or sunset airports,” he explained.

Pwajok said in a bid to tackle visibility issues in some airports during adverse weather, the agency commenced the implementation of Category III ILS in Abuja and Lagos airports while those of Katsina, Kano and Port Harcourt were being installed and would be ready before the end of 2022. He noted that despite the high cost of diesel, the agency had always granted extended services to airlines, which made such requests and will continue to do so. 

He reiterated that NAMA is a 100 per cent self-funded government agency providing air navigation services at federal, state and private airports in Nigeria at increasing cost and is also required to remit 25 per cent of her gross revenue to the federation account, stating that it is uneconomical for the agency to operate beyond 12 hours daily at a domestic airport just for a single flight. 

He therefore assured airline operators that NAMA has and would always grant extension of operational hours when the need arises. He however assured that the agency in collaboration with sister agencies, would be willing to extend the operational hours of busy airports like Enugu and Benin.

NAMA funds most of its projects from its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), but the federal government bankrolls many of the safety critical projects like Category 3 ILS, TRACON and WGS-84. 

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