NAMA emphasises importance of licensing to safety

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has charged the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to consider as a matter of urgency, the inclusion of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel (ATSEP) licensing in its Annex1 to the Chicago Convention.

The agency, while saying this would place the responsibility to ensure safety on the holder, described license as the confirmation of competence in a specific safety related area.

Speaking at the just concluded 9th International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Associations (IFATSEA) hosted by the National Association of Air Traffic Engineers (NAAE) in Abuja, the Managing Director of NAMA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, said although the demand for the licensing of ATSEP had been a recurring issue in the ICAO general assembly yearly due to efforts of IFATSEA to give  it a “loud voice, he added that stakeholders in the industry have the onerous duty to ensure that this message resonates globally given the-critical safety role  ATSEPs play in the aviation sector.

Akinkuotu said as an agency with the largest concentration of ATSEPs in Nigeria, NAMA would continue to support the advocacy for the inclusion of ATSEP licensing in ICAO Annex 1 as this would give them a sense of accountability and commitment to duty.

“Licensing of critical personnel in the aviation industry is fundamental to safety. We are demanding for license so that we can hold people responsible for their actions. The fact that a license unlike a university degree can be withdrawn makes the holder extremely responsible and careful in taking safety-critical decisions,” he said.

Earlier in his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, said the professionalization of ATSEP had become indispensable as it would create the link between air traffic controllers and pilots as is the practice globally.

Zakari who was represented by the Director of Human resources, Nkeiru Ejiofor said Nigeria has been a significant affiliate of IFATSEA and a flagship of safety in the region, even as he tasked participants to “churn out realizable and realistic strategies and modalities to enhance safety in the African airspace and the entire global aviation environment.”

In his welcome address, the President, National Association of Air Traffic Engineers (NAAE), Engineer Ishaya Dung lamented that in spite of concerted efforts by members over the years, ATSEPs were yet to be recognized by ICAO Annex 1, saying this development had impacted negatively on the psychology of members worldwide, making it a safety concern.