Malfunctioning TRACON threatens safety of Nigeria’s airspace

Posted by Chinedu Eze | 16 October 2018 | 724 times

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•NAMA Director of Electronics and Engineering Services Farouk Umar

The safety of Nigeria’s airspace is being threatened by the lack of spares and the degrading of the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON), THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.

The Director of Electronics and Engineering Services of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Farouk Umar, had raised the alarm that TRACON, which enables controllers to see image of aircraft in the radar scope for easy separation, has broken down due to lack of spares.

According to THISDAY, since 2015 when the support agreement with Thales expired, NAMA has been unable to renew the agreement.

The agency, it was learnt, has been cannibalising the radar equipment at Talata Mafara in Kebbi State and Kano to maintain and sustain the primary radar at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja because of the increasing traffic at the Federal Capital Territory airport.

The consequence of the cannibalization is that aircraft flying across the north western part of the country would not be captured by the radar, including international flights across the country’s airspace, popularly referred to as over fliers.

“Without the radar there would be congestion in the airspace because the clearance you will be giving will be wider. Under the procedural (estimation) you give 10 nautical miles gap between aircraft but with radar you will give five nautical miles between aircraft and give them expeditious clearance that will decongest the airspace.

“TRACON started working in 2009 but was inaugurated in 2010 with five years maintenance agreement with Thales, which expired in 2015. We had unlimited supply of spare parts and software upgrade then. So for three years now, TRACON has worked without upgrade or spares after the expiration of the support service contract.

“They now cannibalise two stations in Kano and at Talata Mafara, which is a relay station. This means that we might not capture aircraft movement on the north west of Nigeria’s airspace, which is the route of major airlines coming from Europe as over fliers to South Africa and other countries in that part of the world.

“Without further supply of spares there will develop blind spots in most parts of the airspace. This means it is no more sufficiently covered and will become a threat to air safety,” the ex-official explained.

Excerpted from THISDAY report

Source: News Express

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