Air controllers lied: Our navigational and landing aids are functional, serviceable – NAMA

Captain Fola Akinkuotu, Managing Director of NAMA

By Adegboyega Oni

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has stated that all air navigational and landing aids installed in all the airports in the country are functional and serviceable.

NAMA stated this in a reaction to the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) who attributed the diversion of a British Airways London Heathrow – Lagos bound BA 075 flight to Accra on the 6th of January, 2020 to the degraded state of navigational and landing facilities due to lack of calibration.

Mr. Khalid Emele, General Manager, Public Affairs of NAMA, said the reason given by NATCA was untrue, maintaining that the British Airways requirement for approach and landing on runway 18 Right using PBN is 1800m as against the prevailing visibility of 1500m.

‘’The attention of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has been drawn to a press release by the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) on the state of navigational infrastructure in the country whereby the group said 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.” Indeed, nothing can be further from the truth.

‘’While we recognize and appreciate the right of our workers to clamour for better work tools and operational environment, the reality is that our navigational infrastructure nationwide is not in any state of degradation. 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,’’ said Emele.

Speaking on the functionality and motive behind the installation of the equipment, Emele has this to say: ‘’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.

‘’The newly installed CAT III ILS was implemented to forestall situations like this. As it stands, arrangements have been concluded for the commencement of flight calibration navigational facilities nation from the 16th of January, 2020.’’

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) therefore wishes to

He reassured all airspace users and the general public that the Nigerian airspace remains safe for air travel, saying that the agency is working assiduously towards continuously upgrading its navigational infrastructure in line with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices.

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