The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has dismissed a press statement by the Nigerian Air Traffic Controller’s Association (NATCA) on the poor state of navigational infrastructure in the country, describing such claims as false.
NAMA stated that the claim by Air Traffic Controllers that the diversion on the 6th of January, 2020 of a British Airways London Heathrow – Lagos bound BA 075 flight to Accra was occasioned by the degraded state of navigational and landing facilities due to lack of calibration was total untrue.
NAMA in a statement signed by the general manager public affairs, Khalid Emele explained that while it recognise and appreciate the right of their workers to clamour for better work tools and operational environment, the reality is that its navigational infrastructure nationwide is not in any state of degradation.
Emele stated further that its navigational facilities are operating optimally even though they are awaiting flight calibration in line with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA and International Civil aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations and world best practices.
In the words of Emele: “The idea behind the installation of CAT III Instrument Landing System in strategic airports in the country was borne out of the need to enhance safety, efficiency, access and seamlessness of flight operations in our airspace especially during the harmattan season.
“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. It should also be noted that BA, despite the above diversion, BA has been operating into Lagos daily using the ILS CATII on Runway 18 Left with the same prevailing weather conditions. Therefore, these diversions are avoidable based on existing facilities”.
Emele said the newly installed CAT III ILS was implemented to forestall situations like this.
He noted that arrangements have been concluded for the commencement of flight calibration navigational facilities nation from the 16th of January, 2020.
Emele 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.
Recently, the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) noted with displeasure the unwholesome event unfolding at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport amongst which was the diversion of British Airways and Air France flights to Accra and Cotonou respectively.
Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) in a statement signed by its president, Abayomi Agoro said the sad event was occasioned by poor visibility and haze but more worryingly accentuated by the degraded state of navigational and landing facilities due to lack of calibration.
NATCA stated that the body is equally concerned with the untold hardship the situation has visited on its 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 hitches recently experienced and prevent the re-occurrence of same.
“This is not the time to apportion blames but it must be emphasized that the time has come for all hands to be on deck to ensure seamless safety regime and prompt navigational services.
May we also use this medium to assure the flying public of our competence and preparedness to work with airlines and aviation stakeholders to ensure safety in our airspace”.