The federal government has reassured that its aviation radar system otherwise known as Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON), covering the nation’s airspace system, is absolutely safe for round the clock operations, and that concerns over spare parts and maintenance issues were “unfounded”.
Managing Director of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Folayele Akinkuotu said the vigorous clarification has become necessary to allay worries that the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) may be in short supply of spares because of likely contractual issues with Thales of France, the manufacturers of the equipment.
In an interactive session with the media in Lagos, Akinkuotu said the equipment was functioning optimally while management has remained in close contact with Thales for seamless maintenance and delivery of spare parts.
Captain Akinkuotu said: “It is extremely important to reassure the nation, the travel public, our service users and the international community that TRACON is in top shape as I speak; it is safe in the medium and long terms. There is absolutely no threat from components failure. I have made this point before that our engineers are some of the best in the world”.
“They are working closely with our partners at Thales. For the avoidance of doubt, we received formal communications from Thales a few weeks ago; we are in touch with them to resolve all outstanding issues.”
Akinkuotu explained that since Thales was the manufacturer of the TRACON equipment, spares could only be supplied by them, adding, “We expect that they will continue to do their best to meet their obligations to us while the government is also not shirking in its responsibilities to them. Of course, this is a technical relationship, and if there are issues both parties move quickly to resolve them in the interest of the safety of our airspace.”
He emphasised that TRACON is running safely and efficiently, stressing that there is no cause for alarm. “Our airspace architecture is strong and we are on top of it. “
He said that beyond TRACON, the Agency has recently installed very high frequency (VHF) radios at 17 airports across the country in a bid to enhance communication between pilots and air traffic controllers (ATCs).
He listed some of the airports as Kaduna, Owerri, Enugu, Maiduguri, Ibadan, Katsina, Sokoto, Calabar, Akure and Gombe. Others are Asaba, Dutse, Uyo and Bauchi.
The NAMA boss however noted despite these challenges, the agency had been able to address the radio communication system with the optimization of the Very High Frequency VHF, radio for Upper Airways communication between the pilots and air traffic controllers, installation of Distance Measuring Equipment, DME, Instrument Landing System, ILS in 12 locations and a Category III ILS in Lagos and Abuja among others