Lack of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) at the airports across the country has been a major challenge to domestic airline operators. In this piece, ANTHONY AWUNOR writes that, it is only when the authorities install ILS at all the airports, that operators would be able to maximise their flight hours and therefore, increase their profitability.
Over the years, airline operators have canvassed for the need to upgrade the landing aids so that airlines can operate for more hours and maximise their revenues. This is simply because, no commercial aircraft makes money for its owner sitting on the ground.
At present, night flight operations have not been achieved in all the airports in the country due to inadequate landing facilities such as Instrument Landing Systems (ILS). Only about five airports in the country, out of about 28 allow aircraft to land after 6:00 pm. With this limitation, domestic airlines find it very difficult to deploy their aircraft profitably.
Apart from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, which operate late night flights up to 12 midnight because of scheduled international flights, the other airports cannot function beyond 6.30pm as they are shut down due to the absence of ILS facilities.
Aware of the importance of ILS in airline operations, Edo State government is already working closely with the management of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to ensure the final installation of night landing facilities at the Benin airport
Speaking as the special guest of honour at the 5th Annual General Meeting of the National Air Traffic Communicators Association of Nigeria (NACAN) recently in Benin City, governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, urged NACAN to support the government and people of the state to make Benin airport more viable with the commencement of night flight operations.
Obaseki said, “I want to thank Capt Akinkuotu for the work he is doing in Benin airport, he has worked very closely with us to ensure that we have night landing facilities and ILS in Benin airport. That’s one of the reasons why I personally decided to attend this event to express the gratitude of Edo people to him and to NAMA for all the support.”
According to the governor, the Benin airport remained one of the first five airports in the country with rapid passenger growth.
Obaseki noted that the country with almost 200 million people create huge market for aviation with only about one percent traveling by air transport, still remained high in the continent when compared with other countries.
Obaseki charged NACAN members to avail themselves of the benefit of regular training to come up with the best practices to to be abreast with happenings across the globe to proffer solutions to challenges in the aviation industry in the country.
The governor told NACAN members that much was expected from them by the government by working hard to achieve a culture of safety , efficiency and economic operations of the air navigation industry in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Obaseki commended President Buhari for completing and commissioning the Port Harcourt International Airport abandoned for years.
In his welcome address, the managing director of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt Fola Akinkuotu, said aviation professionals remained the pillar for air safety stressing that without them, technology and regulations alone cannot produce results.
Akinkuotu, who was represented by his technical adviser, Engineer Ayodele Otitolaye, said NAMA was committed to training and retraining for its workforce with the limit of available resources.
According to the NAMA boss, provision of relevant technology was important for professionals to perform their roles saying that air navigation facilities were capital intensive but with the assistance of the federal government, a lot of new projects would be completed for effective performance.
Akinkuotu thanked Governor Obaseki for his determination to ensure that the aeronautical communication to flight safety was not broken and appreciated his support for the safety of airspace.
“Permit me to congratulate the national executive of NACAN and the entire delegate here present on this occasion. I also salute your collective display of resilience and determination to ensure that the linkage of aeronautical communication to flight safety is not broken. The works you are doing in support of safety in are airspace is recognised and appreciated,”he said.
In his welcome address, the national president of NACAN, Comrade Nkambo George, said the federal government has engaged some staff in their department to boost manpower needs but requested go additional 50 staff on annual basis to make up for the shortfall as over 26 staff were disengaged this year haven attained retirement age.
According to Nkambo, 40 staff had been approved for their initial training at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Zaria by the managing director of NAMA thereby addressing what used to cause tension, agitation and ill feelings among professionals in the agency.
The NACAN boss appealed to the federal government to look into the state of HF radios on 5872khz and 5879khz respectively which represented the north and southern network for AFFN traffic exchange.
He thanked the Edo State governor for his support, hospitality and honouring their invitation and the managing director of NAMA for his fatherly roles.