The Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Engineer Nnamdi Udoh, has said the country’s aviation sector recorded a steady growth over the past few years due to increased economic activities occasioned by a stable political environment.
Udoh maintained that there have been significant improvements in the provision of civil aviation infrastructure and regulatory framework stressing that the transformation drive in the Nigerian aviation industry was safety driven.
The NAMA boss who spoke during the Annual General Meeting and 40th year anniversary of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in Owerri, Imo State, said the Nigerian airspace has been covered by the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON), which became operational last year. He said its implementation which has enhanced safety and air traffic management has positioned the industry to accommodate the expected growth in air traffic.
Udoh said with the total radar coverage of the airspace in place, air traffic control (ATC) would be able to safely, effectively and efficiently keep track of all flight operations within the entire airspace.
According to him, the government has approved the implementation of the safe tower project in 13 additional airports. He expressed the hope that the communication challenges in some stations would be a thing of the past once the installation was completed.
He however regretted that lack of funds have stalled the automation of the airspace information management system.
Earlier in his welcome address, the national president of NATCA, Haske Jibrin, said the primary concern of the association was the provision of safety in the airspace through the provision of quality air traffic control service to all flight operating within the national airspace.
He noted that communication infrastructure remained one of the greatest challenges and has remained a source of worry to the association, adding, that in the past few years, the total VHF coverage project being implemented to address the problem was yet to be completed.
He urged the NAMA management to ensure the completion of the project in order to eliminate the risks associated with the situation in the nation’s airspace.
Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, in her speech said that the federal government was committed to air traffic safety and the development of the aviation industry to world class standards.
Oduah said the theme of this year’s conference entitled : ‘‘Air Traffic Safety in the Nigerian Transformation Agenda: The Challenges and Opportunities in the Aviation Industry,’’ was in line with President Jonathan’s transformation agenda and also timely.
Oduah, who was represented by Mohammed Ruma from the ministry, described the air traffic controllers as the heart beat of the aviation industry which was central to air traffic safety.
She reiterated the commitments of the federal government towards completing all ongoing projects, especially within the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) in order to improve air traffic safety in the country’s airspace.
The aviation minister said the ministry would transform the industry technologically as well as develop human capital required to deliver an acceptable level of air traffic safety in line with international standards and best practices.
She asked for the cooperation of stakeholders in the industry in her efforts to achieve greater productivity and industrial harmony in the industry and assured of the ministry’s support to improve the working environment for comfort in order to enhance safety.
Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, in his speech appealed to the Federal Government to upgrade the Sam Mbakwe Cargo Airport to an international cargo airport for both day and night operations.
The Governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Special Duties Barrister Nelson Ezedioha, acknowledged the crucial roles played by air traffic management in the country’s aviation industry. He urged NATCA to help the government in the development of safety in the airspace.