The Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) on Sunday alerted the authorities in the country’s aviation sector on the lack of back up of its radar facilities in the country’s airspace.
It said the lack of back up of such sensitive facility is a time bomb waiting to explode.
In a statement signed by the association’s Secretary General, Mr. Victor Eyaru Banji Olawode, which was made available to the media yesterday, NATCA noted that it was most unfortunate that none of the radar facilities within the Nigeria’s airspace has any form of backup.
While also calling on government to address the faulty runway at the Lagos airport, he said: “We call on government to urgently fix this taxiway to prevent avoidable aircraft accidents on ground and to increase the capacity of the airport.
“Lagos Central Taxiway: This taxiway has been out of use for more than six years due to abandonment of the reconstruction work on the taxiway. This has led to only the usage of Eastern taxiway whenever only Runway 18L/36R is available for landing and takeoff.”
According to Olawoye, aircraft accidents on he ground have been recorded more than twice whenever wide bodied aircraft make use of the Eastern taxiway, adding that the most recent was at 2045 UTC on July 6 when the Emirates aircraft B777 flight UAE784 ran into parked Hak Airlines aircraft on the apron when FAAN Electrical department switched off lights on the longer Runway 18R/36L for maintenance.
The un-serviceability of the same Eastern Taxiway, according to him, has prevented aircraft from accessing the only compass swing available in the airport.
He said: “We call on government to urgently fix this taxiway to prevent avoidable aircraft accidents on ground and to increase the capacity of the airport.
“In time of any failures or major maintenance work will leave Air Traffic Controllers to revert to the less efficient procedural (non-radar) system of control which invariably increases traffic delay and losses to airline operators.
“Other components of the Radar equipment such as Mode S and AFTN has not been activated which are meant to enhance levels of air safety,” he said.
The secretary general said the association and its members will be grateful if redundancies could be procured for the Radar equipment by the government as it is the global best practice, adding that efforts should also be geared towards activating other important components of the Radar equipment and timely completion of the ongoing AIS Automation and CPDLC projects. Government should not also lose sight of replacing the present Radar equipment with more modern ones before attaining its expiration.
Concerning the Abuja runway, he said: “The association lauded the initiative of the government to construct a second runway at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. As much as the idea is noble, it will be more beneficial if the new runway is constructed to be parallel to the existing one to actually increase the capacity of the airport.”
Converging runways in most cases are considered as having only one runway since both cannot be used simultaneously like in the case of parallel runways.
“It is disheartening to note that Jos Control Tower has been invaded by bees for more than a decade without effective action to remedy the situation. Many Air Traffic Controllers have been attacked by the bees while at work. We were lucky not to have lost one Controller to the bees’ attack in the last quarter of 2014. The federal government will do well to urgently intervene to prevent any unwholesome incident.
“Inadequate Training and Shortage of Air Traffic Controllers: About 300 Air Traffic Controllers under the employment of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) are barely 50 per cent of the number required to optimally man the Nigeria’s airspace,” he said.