Air traffic controllers and pilots in the country have identified bureaucratic bottlenecks and paucity of funds as part of the factors militating against the adequate execution of critical aviation safety projects in Nigeria.
Dropping this hint, the controllers and the pilots while speaking under the aegis of air traffic controllers and pilots forum have equally urged the Federal Government to establish a special intervention fund for critical aviation safety projects.
The group lamented how the non-availability of special fund to tackle critical aviation safety projects has hindered the execution of good projects in a communiqué jointly issued and signed by the Chairman and Secretary, Steering Committee, Ahmad Abba and Mrs. Olubunmi Balogun respectively after a one day interactive session with the theme: “Airport Collaborative Decision Making, Capacity Development and Planning as Catalysts for Aviation Safety” aimed at discussing the vital elements required for improving aviation safety in the country.
The air traffic controller/pilots’ body condemned the shunning of all efforts made on the need for airfield lighting controls to be placed at aerodrome control towers across the country, as it is the standard practice across the world, lamenting how these controls were still in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) airfield lighting control rooms.
This situation, the group said had adversely affected the need for light adjustment for the safe operations of aircraft, stressing that the benefits derivable from policies and projects in the aviation industry are not mostly realised due to lack of collaboration between stakeholders, investments in personnel, equipment, structures and procedures which are made without considering the interconnectedness of the industry.
The group while insisting that this situation had made projects like the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) not to be fully utilised, also cited how modern equipment, skill and knowledge have contributed to factors working against full implementation of performance based navigation in Nigeria.
Performance-based Navigation (PBN) was introduced by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and it specifies that aircraft required navigation performance (RNP) and area navigation (RNAV) systems performance requirements be defined in terms of accuracy, integrity, availability, continuity and functionality required for the proposed operations in the context of a particular airspace, when supported by the appropriate navigation infrastructure.
In 2017, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) published PBN Area Navigation (RNAV) Approaches for 15 Nigerian airports as well as the publication of Standard Arrival Routes (STARs) and Standard Instrument Departure Routes (SIDs) for Benin Airport by the agency.
According to the group: “Communication both ground-ground and air to ground is the backbone of aviation safety. The present communication network is presently epileptic, unreliable and inadequate. Air traffic controllers and pilots find it difficult to communicate in the en route phase of flights. Controllers also find it difficult to communicate with adjacent air traffic control units.
“Disruption of service as a result of maintenance or lack of it is becoming worrisome. Pilots, controllers, and other aviation users get abrupt notice of withdrawal of service without plan”.