The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has disclosed plans to install Category 3A Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at the Lagos and Abuja airports.
The new equipment will enable aircraft to land, even if the pilots are unable to establish visual contact with the runway due to bad weather. ILS does this by transmitting radio signals.
A Category 3A approach is a precision instrument approach and landing with no decision height or a decision height lower than 100ft (30m) and a runway visual range not less than 700ft (200m).
Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, said the imminent ILS upgrade at the two busiest airports in Nigeria, are part of the plan to embark on aggressive deployment of Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) infrastructure this year, to further boost the safety of air travel in the country.
Akinkuotu, at an interactive forum organised by the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos, said the deployment of the hi-tech equipment would ensure that aircraft land can land in zero-zero visibility given the adverse weather at certain times of the year.
It will be recalled that despite the installation of ILSs at 18 airports nationwide last year, harmattan haze still grounded local flight operations last December and early January 2018, affecting all the airports except Lagos and Abuja.
The MD reiterated that it is one thing to have the instrument in place; it is another for the airplanes’ onboard gadgets to match the ILSs for use.
Besides that, he added that another challenge is the billions of debt incurred by the airlines, which is affecting operations of the airspace management agency.
Akinkuotu said notwithstanding the financial constraint, NAMA remains committed to enhancing safety and efficiency, by installing communication radios in strategic areas in the country, as well as upgrade of existing ones, deployment of ILS and other navigational aids across the country.
A brand new ILS and a Doppler Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range (DVOR) have been installed and calibrated in Kano. Other areas of progress according to the NAMA boss include improvement in Air Traffic Control (ATC) capacity through training and retraining of critical personnel and others, addressing depleting ATC manpower, enhanced staff welfare through implementation of harmonisation of salaries and the signing of new condition of service, which is awaiting approval by government.
On critical projects to be embarked upon by his administration in the next one year, Akinkuotu said although the issue of Aeronautical Information Services Automation by the agency had dragged on since 2009, his administration was determined to see to its completion so that NAMA can migrate to Aeronautical Information Management (AIM), in view of all the deliverables that would accrue to the agency.