Air Traffic Controllers in Nigeria are calling on the Federal Government to expedite action in improving on air navigation facilities and their welfare in ensuring the security and safety of the Nigerian airspace.
The controllers made the call to commemorate this year’s International Day of the Air Traffic Controllers today with the theme: “Air Traffic Management Safety and Emerging National Security Challenges”.
The air traffic controllers ensure seamless take offs, enroutes and landings of aircraft, separation of aircraft to avoid collision both on ground and in the air and also in search and rescue operations in aviation.
However, they grapple with certain challenges on a daily basis frustrating their efforts in effectively discharging their assigned duties.
It is in line with this year’s theme: “Air Traffic Management, Safety and Emerging National Security Challenges” in commemorating the International Day of the Air Traffic controllers, that the body, Nigeria Air Traffic Controllers Association, NATCA wants the FG to urgently address the problems of air navigation infrastructure that could hamper safety and security in the nation’s airspace.
Some of these problems have to do with the deplorable state and obsolete communication, surveillance and landing facilities.
An Air Traffic Controller, Hussaini Jubril says, as at today communication between pilots and controllers was worrisome.
He said, in some parts of the country, identifying aircraft in the airspace was difficult due to the absence of a certain radar amongst others.
“I don’t think there is any airport in Nigeria that can communicate effectively between one unit and another, there is no effective communication we have to employ the use of telephones, the only little challenge that we have is the primary surveillance radar, we may not be able yo see an aircraft except that aircraft has a transponder on board”.
“There is a possibility for an aircraft to operate in an airspace where it is not radar equipped and there is no primary surveillance radar that is covering that area for that aircraft to operate without the knowledge of ATC”.
President of NATCA, Mr. Abayomi Agoro said, certain problems have lingered for too long and efforts at addressing them have been slow.
In the area of welfare of the controllers, other problems he listed among others are; conditions of service, poor working operations environment and health scheme.
“Staff conditions of Service, promotion of our younger ones, staff conditions of service that does not really take care of ATC it is more or less trying to demystify us, every staff in NAMA deserve better treatment. The issue of our contract ATCO is still burning in our mind, our class 3 aeromedical which has been left since 2009, length of service and shortage of manpower”.
The President, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, NAAPE, Mr. Abednego Galadinma said, the welfare of air traffic controllers must be given 100% attention to avoid them becoming a threat to safety.
He emphasized that, Management of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA must redouble its efforts in the provision of modern and up to date air navigation facilities as the current ones especially communication was putting both the controllers and pilots under a lot of stress.
“This additional stress and workload is not good for the job, is not good for the industry, it should be seamless, it should be audible, it should be clear”.
While they acknowledged that some improvement had been made in certain areas, they say, there was still more work to be done in ensuring the overall safety and security of the Nigerian airspace.