Friday, February 17, 2012

Nigeria Airspace Management Agency Now to Install Airfield Lighting at Airport Runways

The Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) would now take the responsibility of providing airfield lighting at the nation’s airports.

It will also provide bird hazard control to eliminate bird strikes on flights and carry out calibrations of airport facilities.

Before the new policy, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) was providing airfield lighting which obviously accompanies construction of runways, while calibration is done by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

The Ministry of Aviation may have decided on this new policy because over the years FAAN seemed incapable of providing airfield lighting at rehabilitated airports, thus subjecting many of the nation’s airports to day light flights.

An important example is the domestic runway (18L) of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, which was commissioned in December 2008 after rehabilitation by the then Minister of Aviation, Babatunde Omotoba without runway lighting, and since then, four years after, the runway has been without lighting.

This adversely affect the operations of domestic airlines at sundown, and aircraft have to trudge to the international runway (18R) which is about two kilometer away, burning fuel that was put at about N500 million annually to take off to domestic destinations.

Not only that, using the international runway alone in the evenings gives rise to congestion because it is the period of peak landing and take-off by international flights, so aircraft have to hover for minutes to wait for its own turn to land, which also wastes a lot of fuel.

Ideally, both the runway and airfield lighting are built simultaneously so that they are ready for commissioning together, but at the Lagos airport, it was different; the same with the Owerri and Enugu airports.

A statement from NAMA, signed by its the General Manager, Public Affairs, Supo Atobatele, said that the agency has been given additional responsibilities to effectively manage the nation’s airspace as the Federal Government directed the agency to oversee airfield lighting at all airports and also be in charge of bird harzard control.

It noted that similarly, the agency under the new dispensation was to take over the calibration unit otherwise known as Navigational Aids Flight Inspection and Surveillance (NAFIS) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

This directive the statement said, given to the affected agencies by the Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah would take immediate effect.

The exercise according to the Minister ’’is in line with the Federal Government’s transformation agenda for the industry’’.

All the Chief Executives of the affected agencies have been directed to work out modalities for the take over and complete the details for same.

The managing director of NAMA, Mr. Nnamdi Udoh addressing the management staff of the agency in Lagos on Thursday over the new development, remarked that the workforce, especially the technical staff would have to brace up for the emerging challenges.

The NAMA boss, described the additional job as enormous and reminded the staff of the need to realign for corporate goal of providing high quality air traffic services.

‘’With these huge responsibilities given to NAMA, we need to settle down and work assiduously to justify the new status bestowed on the agency by the Federal Government’’, the Managing Director stressed.

NAMA by the Act No.48 of 1999 has the mandate to provide Air Navigation Services in the country and commenced operation in January, 2000.

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