ICAO Certifies Nigeria’s Airspace as Safe

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has listed Nigeria as one of the 14 countries in Africa that have achieved effective air safety implementation above the global average of 61 per cent.

This was disclosed by the aviation agencies’ image maker, Yakubu Dati, who said the rating was contained in the ICAO 2013 Safety Report compiled by ICAO auditors who investigated the compliance with stipulated international safety standards by individual countries across the world, especially its 200 member countries.

“The ICAO 2013 Safety Report lends credence to the Category I certification granted Nigeria in 2011 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States, for meeting stipulated international standards and practices on safety and security,” he said. Dati added that the certification also indicated the success of the aviation master plan developed by the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, the vision of which is to “make Nigerian aviation sector a world class provider of safe, secure and comfortable air transport sector that is self-sustaining and pivotal to socio-economic growth.”

The Federal Government started the improvement of the airspace with the installation of the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) at the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), which was conceived to achieve total radar coverage of the Nigerian airspace with the scope of the project covering the provision of co-located Primary and Secondary Radar, Eurocat-C Air Traffic Management systems, Voice Communication Switches and Voice Recording Systems at the four main sites in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt airports; five autonomous Secondary Radar sites in Talata-Mafara, Maiduguri, Numan, Obubra and Ilorin.

The nine sites are interconnected via a multi-node VSAT network. The new system provide a means to guide an aircraft according to the information in its Flight Plan for both terminal and en-route flights, provide automatic correlation of local and system radar tracks with the flight plan and ensure overall safety of aircrafts within the Terminal Approach Area (TMA) and the Flight Information Region (FIR). NAMA has also established the Aeronautical Information Service (AIS), the total VHF Radio coverage of Nigeria, which provides effective Air-Ground communication between the pilot and the Air Traffic Control centres. Also the Extended Range VHF Radio Communication rides on the VSAT network to provide seamless services for operations in the Nigerian airspace.

The agency successfully completed the World Geodetic Survey (WGS-84) project for the Nigerian airspace by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The major deliverables of the project includes World Geodetic Survey (WGS) reports for the four major international airports in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt, and eighteen other airports, airspace concept and GNSS procedures including SIDs (Standard Instrument Departures) and STARs (Standard Terminal Arrival Routes). This successful feat charts the roadmap to implementing Performance-Based Navigation (PBN).

All these are safety critical projects that ensure the safety of the airspace, including the recently completed Area Radar which eases communication, routing in the airspace and cuts off flight time by almost 15 per cent; thus one hour flight could be shortened to 50 minutes, which saves fuel for the airlines and other operators.