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Airline operators seek repair of airspace communications equipment

By The Citizen
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There seems to be no respite for operators and users of the country's airspace over the epileptic radio and navigational communications as Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called for their repairs.

The AON has also faulted the position of Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodinma over his comments on the sector which it said was capable of drawing the sector backward. Uzodinmma had carpeted the Aviation Ministry and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency (NCAA) for what he described as inefficiency; one that had been roundly condemned by stakeholders.

Although the operators yesterday attributed the perennial navigation infrastructural decay to systemic failure, they charged the government to seek permanent solution to the problem.

Speaking to reporters in Lagos yesterday, the AON led by its Chairman, Dr. Steve Mahonwu, Secretary General, Mohammed Joji, its Assistant Secretary General, Mohammed Tukur and the Managing Director of Afrijet, Mr. Vitalis Ibe, said the problem of the navigational communications was not beyond redemption, noting that the Federal Government should come to the aid of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to secure the airspace.

Mahonwu stated that given the commitment of NAMA, the agency, he noted ,was poised to remedy the situation.

Experts, including pilots and air traffic controllers said the situation 'is so bad that often times airplanes enter the Nigerian airspace without the knowledge of air traffic controllers. At other times, they only get to know of such flights through telephone calls from their counterparts in Nigeria's friendly nations.'

Apparently to avoid running into trouble with the aviation authorities over an open declaration that the country's airspace was no longer safe for them to overfly, major foreign airlines have quietly refrained themselves from using the nation's airspace.

According to them, the country's airspace is dotted with moribund communications gadgets (visual and voice) such that air traffic controllers and pilots now have extreme difficulty in reaching one another.

AON said that the Senator's utterances most especially on the regulatory agency, (NCAA) could paint the country in bad light before the international community.

Stakeholders had given the NCAA a thumb up for high regulatory standards which culminated in Nigeria attaining the coveted global aviation safety status, the United States category one aviation status among other things that was blighted by Dana Air crash on June 3, 2012.

The body, led by it Chairman, Dr. Steve Mahonwu insisted that 'Uzodinma had been feeding the public with distortion on NCAA oversight functions, stressing that the agency had been carrying out its function without bias over the years.' (The Guardian)