Nigeria travellers beware

by Trust Matsilele 0

Nigeria airspace’s radar facilities do not have back-up and this has been described as a ticking time bomb that poses a serious threat to air travellers.

NATCA says, the available one is very old and in need of replacement.

Victor Eyaru, president of Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) told CNBC Africa that the radar used to monitor the movement of an aircraft requires urgent back-up to avert possible dangers.

(READ MORE: Nigerian aviation industry at risk of being downgraded)

NATCA is a non-governmental organisation whose membership is drawn from Professional Traffic Controllers who possess relevant Air Traffic Controllers Licenses and Ratings. 

Eyaru warned that in the absence of a back-up radar, air controllers resort to using their brains to predict the latitude and geography of a plane.

“Without that radar as an aircraft controller you would be doing procedural air traffic controlling which is very taxing as one will be using [their] own brain to tell where the plane is geographically,” said Eyaru.

“In this battle, God has been kind to us as we have not experienced challenges in air traffic associated with not having radar, but it could be very terrible if the only available goes blank.”

Eyaru stressed the need for the government to play a leading role in procuring a back-up radar while allaying fears of possible travellers.

“We are moving from an environment of procedural air traffic control to radar controlled environment so it is necessary to have back-up radar,” he added.

“We are not saying the airspace is not safe but we are trying to be pro-active, we have been the government to come and assist NATCA as procuring the radar is beyond the organisation’s capacity.”

Eyaru said manpower was also a challenge as the sector operates with half of the required number of airspace operators.

“The government is doing the best it can but the efforts are too slow. We currently have 320 air controllers across the country when we need about six hundred to operate optimally,” he said.

“Training an air traffic controller takes about three years as air traffic control is not as easy as buying something from shops.”