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Operators bemoan poor equipment, personnel in air traffic control

By Wole Oyebade
29 October 2021   |   4:11 am
Air Traffic Control (ATC) communicators have bemoaned the quality of equipment available at airports nationwide, describing it as poor and unbefitting of modern airports.

PHOTO: abcnews

•Five airports have no communicator amid shortfall
Air Traffic Control (ATC) communicators have bemoaned the quality of equipment available at airports nationwide, describing it as poor and unbefitting of modern airports.

The operators, under the aegis of National Air Traffic Communicators Association of Nigeria (NACAN), said inadequate equipment and personnel shortfall had made efficient services almost impossible.

The body confirmed that at least, five airports had no air traffic communicator on ground, while Lagos, the busiest airport in the country, was facing personnel shortage too.

ATC communicator is a personnel trained to monitor aircraft movement and communicate with pilots via radio.

President of NACAN, George Nkambo, said the lack of good equipment negatively affected the performance of the air traffic communicators’ unit.

Nkambo said it was frustrating that his members report for duty, but are unable to perform their responsibilities. “When you come to work, you see the backlog of messages that ought to have been transmitted but they are not (due to poor equipment). That gives room for laxity, as if personnel are not ready to work.”

Besides fixing the equipment, he also urged the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to address shortage of manpower in the department.

He observed that his unit needed additional 300 personnel to join the 176 on ground to cover airports nationwide effectively.

Nkambo disclosed that airports in Jalingo, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Kebbi and Jigawa currently had no communicator, which should not be the case in a modern aerodrome.

He added that Lagos was also facing a shortfall, causing available personnel to get overworked.

“With equipment (aircraft) coming into Lagos and only two persons are on a shift, it will be difficult to offer their functions at the terminal, receiving data from Kano or Abuja stations.

“We have e-flight plans and messages coming from airlines. In Lagos, we have several flights between 11 and 12 midnight. All scheduled-flights turn in their plans for transmission and you require communicators to do that. So, our people get overworked to the detriment of their health.”

Nkambo regretted the negative impact of the COVID-19 on the industry at large, adding that it had been a challenging year for everyone.

General Secretary of NACAN, Kayode Famuro, noted that the present executives of NACAN were able to address myriads of problems that retarded the progress of the association.

Famuro said despite the challenges, the Managing Director of NAMA had stabilised the agency in terms of providing an enabling environment and training for smooth operations. He advised NACAN members to always cooperate with the management team of NAMA and the communications department.