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Normalcy returns as agency optimises airport landing equipment

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Normal scheduled services have fully resumed in Nigerian airspace as safety critical equipment return to optimal functions at both Lagos and Abuja airports.The safe operations were enhanced by successfully calibration of the Category III Instrument Landing Systems (ILSs) at Runway 18 Right at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, as well as Runway 22 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.

Though harmattan haze and poor visibility still abound at airports in the northern parts of the country, improved services at the two busiest airports in Lagos and Abuja have mitigated the effect of climate change. A senior official of Emirates airline said the normal daily multiple flights had since resumed with the support of the landing aids at the two international airports.

“It is not only Emirates, but across all the international airlines. Pilots are more confident flying in and out of Lagos now. I think the managers have found the right solution, though a little delayed.

“The main problem is weather changes and it is not only in Nigeria. But the most important solution is the right equipment at our airports, so that whatever weather brings around, it will not put safe flights at risk,” he said.

Veteran pilot and chairman, Board of Trustee of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Capt. Dele Ore, commended the upgrade of the ILS II to III at the Lagos airport, saying it aligns with the position of the ASRTI since years back.

Ore added that though optimal and efficient airport infrastructures were non-negotiable, the larger issue for all parties is the frequent changes in weather and diverse effects at this time of the year.

Ore, in response to recent flight diversions to neighbouring countries, said: “The same weather that makes it possible to land in Cotonou, Lome or Accra, may not make it so in Lagos. But, if the U.S. and the Europeans airlines are smart enough to have winter and summer schedules, what is wrong with harmattan schedule during which time you are able to land when the sun goes down and the dust settles? The lights from the ground allows landing between 8 p.m. and midnight,” he said.

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, said a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) had been issued on normalcy of operations, while calibration of navigational aids in other locations nationwide was in progress to cover all.

In the same vein, a flight commissioning of the newly installed Doppler Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Radio Range (DVOR) in Lagos has successfully been carried out just as routine flight calibration has also been carried out on Runway 18 Left in Lagos.

Akinkuotu said: “In spite of initial hitches, it is gratifying to note that Runway 18R in Lagos has been certified for CAT III just as Runway 22 in Abuja with the newly acquired calibration aircraft by the Aviation Ministry. Both facilities are now fully operational.”

While pledging a timely calibration of navigational facilities, going forward, Akinkuotu said the availability of the flight calibration aircraft would ensure that NAMA is able to carry out calibration as and when due.Calibration of ILS are done twice a year —February and November, every six months because of the level of accuracy required, while Very High Frequency (VHF) Omni-Directional Range (VOR) is calibrated once in a year, and the radar system is once every three years. If there is repair work on any of the navigational equipment or total replacement, it has to be calibrated.


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