NAMA splits Lagos airspace control centre to boost services
Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has successfully split the Lagos Sub-Flight Information Region (Sub-FIR) airspace into two sectors, as part of a move to enhance air traffic services.
The two sectors – Lagos West Area Control Centre on 120.9MHz radio frequency and Lagos East Area Control Centre on 127.3MHz frequency – have since commenced operations.
NAMA, which disclosed this development yesterday, said it was a product of a two-year strategic plan to decongest the erstwhile single radiofrequency.
The Guardian recently reported that safe travel in Nigeria’s airspace was in jeopardy despite efforts by the government to improve navigation infrastructure. Pilots were getting increasingly worried about poor communication between cockpits and control towers, a persistent problem that has worsened.
Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu said it took the commitment and determination of the staff to achieve the sectorisation of Lagos, which had eluded the agency for over 16 years. According to him, sectorising Lagos became imperative owing to the increasing volume of traffic and the attendant challenges posed to both pilots and air traffic controllers.
He said in a bid to achieve this feat, NAMA had put in place several measures to ensure its effective takeoff. The measures include the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and a test-run of the procedures at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria; in-house training of needed manpower to boost capacity in the two sectors and enhancement of the required support facilities for ground-ground and air-ground communication.
Others are updating the radar maps and database of the radar system; test running the radar system and radio communication equipment, as well as the issuance of an Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) supplement to give airspace users 56 days notification as required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and Part 14 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations.
Akinkuotu listed other milestones to include the signing of letters of agreement with adjacent FIRs like Accra, Douala, and Lome; the signing of letters of procedures between Lagos -Abuja and Lagos – Port Harcourt; development and publication of Nigerian en route charts showing the delineation of the East and West airspace sectors; conduct of safety assessment as well as organising a stakeholders’ forum.
The immediate benefits of the sectorisation, according to Akinkuotu, include a reduction in congestion on the available en-route control radio frequency, reduction of flight delays, reduction in fuel consumption, reduction in CO2 emission, as well as increase in air traffic management (ATM) capacity.
The NAMA boss also said sectorising the Lagos Area Control Centre (ACC) would bring about optimum utilisation of the airspace by reducing controller-pilot workload, thereby increasing efficiency and quality of service delivery as well as providing functional air navigation services that would meet international standards at no cost to the users.