The director general of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muktar Usman, has observed that in Africa, 60 per cent of fatal accidents in aviation are runway related.
Capt Usman disclosed this recently, while speaking at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) 2018 Runway Safety Week in Lagos, with the Theme: “Low Visibility Operations on the Airside, Importance and Consequences.”
Usman, represented at the event by the general manager, Navigation Services, Mr Mathew Pwajok, said this was why the Ministers of States of the African and Indian Ocean Region, in July 2012 met in Abuja under the Ministerial conference where they looked at safety critical issues and established what is now known globally as the Abuja Declaration of Safety Targets.
He said, “And very key among these targets is runway safety, most accidents that are fatal, are either duringon landing or takeoff either as runway incursion, excursion and confusion.”
According to the NCAA helmsman, there were also concerns otherwise known as significant safety concerns that African region also had, and these had to do with “deficiencies in air navigation infrastructure, it also has to do with effective implementation of safety oversight.”
The managing director, Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Captain Fola Akinkuotu, represented by the general manager, Technical Evaluation, in the Agency, Mr Bola Ahmed, emphasised that NAMA had put several measures in place for the safety of every flight in the airspace and on the ground.
He observed that between 2015 and 2016, the then management of NAMA started working on how to reduce disruption of flight operations during the period of low visibility, which was encountered between the months of November to February with the advent of harmattan.
“This period of the year is characterised by a drastic reduction in visibility sometimes to as low as between 350 and 450 meters. Before the current review, the minimal use of 800 meters ILS operations and the minimum of 1,200 meters for VOR operations, even at the best of times in most cases, will not even be able to achieve all these and most of our carriers will be on the ground.”
According to the NAMA boss, these have ripple effects on the quantity and amount of revenue; they would have been able to collect, adding that there would be reduction in revenue generation with other attendant implications.
Since then he added that, “ NAMA management has put in place a think tank, a thinking team in place to see the possibility of not only employing artificial intelligence if possible but equally seeing the possibility of using intelligent assistance so that we can see how we could minimise the effect of weather, the effect of low visibility on our operations”.
Managing Director, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Engr Saleh Dunoma, while declaring the week open stressed that, on a regular basis, runway facilities are maintained and upgraded, adding that officers in charge of these facilities were also trained to deliver safety.
Mrs Victoria Shinaba Aba, who represented Engr Dunoma, stressed that the Agency strictly observes the international standards and operating procedures, urging all stakeholders to buy-in to sustain the zero accident currently being enjoyed in the industry.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Team Leader of the MMIA Lagos Runway Safety Team (LRST), Mrs Ngozi Njoku, said the week was to create awareness, that irrespective of one’s duty and job specification, all must embrace safety culture, “as the saying goes, safety in aviation is every body’s business”.
She noted that the theme for this year was to sensitise all aviation stakeholders on safety operations as the harmattan period approaches.
“We all know there has always been a beneficial partnership, sensitisation and enlightenment for all aviation stakeholders in order to create safety awareness for all”.
Mrs Njoku explained that the primary role of the runway safety team is to develop an action plan for Runway Safety, advise the management as appropriate on potential runway safety issues and recommend strategies for hazard removal and mitigation of the residual risk.
Members of the team were drawn from all the agencies including pilots, local and foreign airlines.
Present at the event were some members of the runway safety team from other international airports who came to understudy that of Lagos airport, officers of the customs service, police, ground handling companies among others.
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