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NAMA replaces all VHF radio to guarantee airspace safety

Sunday, 28 April 2019


To boost the clarity of radio communication especially at the upper airspace, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has replaced all the Very High Frequency (VHF) radios at the existing eight remote sites in Lagos, Kano, Wukari, Sokoto, Ilorin, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Maiduguri.

The agency has also added six new sites in Jos, Kaduna, Yola, Enugu, Benin and Calabar, Cross Rivers State making a total of fourteen VHF sites spread across the nation.

 This is coming as the agency has begun acceleration of its ongoing programme geared towards the total upgrade of its radio communication infrastructure across the country.

This is to ensure that communication challenges experienced by pilots in some parts of the airspace are totally eliminated.

Spokesman for NAMA, Mr. Khalid Emeli in a statement said these VHF remote sites are operated in a network which will have signal pattern that covers the entire Nigerian airspace, adding that the agency had taken delivery of the VHF radio equipment under the “Extended Range VHF Coverage” project and installation will commence soon.

He noted that the agency in 2018 deployed four stand-alone Jotron High-power long range VHF radios at Lagos East and Lagos West as well as Kano East and Kano West Area Control Centres (ACCs).

This backup solution according to him is targeted at addressing Remote Control Air to Ground (RCAG) communication challenges in the upper airspace by providing reliable backup in the event of loss of VHF radio communication on the main system.

His words, ‘Also, plans have been completed to extend the range of the above stated long-range backup radios and is only awaiting the passage of 2019 budget by the National Assembly for implementation to commence. When completed, the backup radios would also have sufficient overlap of propagated signals to cover the entire Nigerian airspace’.

‘As an agency, one of our overriding priorities is to provide reliable communication link between the air traffic controller and the flying pilot at all phases of flight and this we are continuously committed to doing’, he added.

He assured that its radio communication infrastructure remains serviceable just as it is intensifying efforts to ensure that the quality continues to improve in line with international standards.

It would be recalled the communication challenge between pilots and air traffic controllers has made airlines and pilots to rely on neighbouring countries for air traffic navigation because of some ‘black spots’ in the airspace which the agency is tackling.

Although Nigeria’s airspace black spot has reduced by over 70 per cent, the inability to cover the country’s vast airspace 100 per cent has contributed immensely to avoidance of the airspace by foreign airlines as they choose to fly longer distances by avoiding it entirely even when the situation does not appear totally bad.

Air traffic controllers disclosed that flight operations without a clear communication between the pilot in the cockpit and controllers in the tower held dire consequences for safety of the flight.

They noted that the present Controller-Pilot VHF Communication coverage of Nigeria’s airspace is a far cry from the required international standard, but it is still work in progress with NAMA.
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