Despite the acquisition of $8.5 million calibration aircaft by the Federal Government, the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) has expressed worry over degraded navigational aids (NAVAIDS) which has contributed to the diversion of international flights to neighbouring countries.
This is coming on the heels of the recent diversion of British Airways London-Lagos bound flight and Air France flight to Accra and Cotonou respectively due to the state of navigational and landing facilities.
The NATCA president, Abayomi Agoro, said the events at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport is as a result of poor visibility and haze which caused most of the diversion and was worsened by the degraded state of navigational and landing facilities due to lack of calibration.
The Ministry of Aviation, on August 29, 2019, confirmed receipt of an $8.5 million King Air 350i calibration airplane in government’s quest to ensure workability of navigational aids and boost aviation safety and stem the $500, 000 bi-annual capital flights.
This equipment was expected to be put into use to ensure that the navigational or communication equipment like the Instrument Landing System (ILS), Very-high Omni-directional radio Range (VOR) are calibrated every six months to ensure they work accurately and precisely.
“We are concerned with the untold hardship the situation has visited on our members working in Lagos Terminal Approach position whose statutory responsibility is to ensure a round-the- clock safety in taking off and landing.
“In as much as we sincerely appreciate government’s huge investment in the upgrade of aviation infrastructure in the sector, NATCA is nevertheless concerned about the perennial state of degradation of the essential facilities and working tools with attendant increased stress and workload which, in practical terms, translate to serious safety implications for the flying public.
“NATCA, therefore, urges the relevant authorities to take immediate steps to restore the full serviceability of the navigational and landing aids to ensure an effective end to the uncalled-for hitches recently experienced and prevent the re-ccurrence of same,” Agoro said.
Though a category 3 ILS was recently installed by Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the calibration aircraft is still in the process of undergoing certification by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA) that will also certify the crew of the aircraft.
Daily Sun reached out to the public relations officer of NAMA, Khalid Emele, who said the CAT 3 has undergone calibration and has been powered on.
“NAMA is not in charge of runway lights. The runway lights were on and we landed safely. The question is, why are local airlines flying?
“Why are they taking off and landing safely? The service we provide to local airlines is what we provide to foreign airlines.
“Our navigational facilities are operating optimally, but are awaiting flight calibration in line with NCAA and International Civil aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations and world best practices.
“The prevailing weather condition in Lagos of 1,500m is 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.
“Nonetheless, the British Airways (BA) company requirement for approach and Landing on runway 18 Right using PBN is 1800m as against the prevailing visibility of 1500m. It should be noted that all other foreign operators including Emirates, Delta, KLM, Lufthansa, etc landed on the same runway in similar weather conditions.