The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has made successful efforts at improving safety in the nation’s airspace by upgrading landing aids and automating its system.
The Managing Director of the agency, Tayib Mohammed Odunowo, in an interactive forum with aviation correspondents in Lagos, said he knew the agency had challenges like any other agency and had to quickly hit the ground running when he assumed office, recalling there were issues of communication in the airspace and many other on-going projects.
‘’When I came into NAMA about four months ago, we did what we called business process reengineering, almost changed direction, there is something called a paradigm shift, everybody sitting here can’t see things from different angle. Because I had the opportunity of coming from the NCAA (the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority), I had known some of the challenges, it was easy for me to just say what are the key issues, even in NCAA we had the same challenges.
Odunowo said that in order to be in tandem with where the world is going both in aviation and other areas of development, he prioritized automation. This means that the agency has to de-emphasise on manual systems that were still prevailing at the time.
“We needed to automate. The world is moving and leaving us behind. Nigeria is standing still in the area of automation. And if you look at the agencies, the one that needs it most, is NAMA. We talk about the NextGen, it is about Airspace modernisation which started in America. It is about moving from ground based to Satellite based ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast) even though, they are using GPS. Europe is doing the same, it is called Single European Sky, that is airspace modernisation, Dubai is doing Seamless Asia.
“It is all about air traffic management inter-cooperability. One single sky. So, everything we are doing in this field if you don’t want to be left behind, you must automate. Immediately, we started to deploy fibre in all our 46 stations, we brought in the Galaxy backbone, they have started as at today’’, he said.
In the area of Capacity building, the NAMA boss disclosed that there were issues but the agency is currently relying on Information Technology to boost staff training.
“In NAMA, we want to capitalise on IT. Three weeks ago, we were in Paris Airshow, I spoke to the Director General, NCAA about training and we learnt that 80 percent of the training they do in France is online. Therefore, we are changing that mindset now with my team and they have signed an agreement with us and they (staff) are going to start to join their virtual trainings and its cheaper for us,” he said.
Odunowo disclosed that NAMA is improving safety of its infrastructure and equipment at its stations and the airports.
“The other thing is that we are improving safety. There is something called air safety reports. It is about occurrences that have occurred that God said it’s not time. Technically, these incidences have to be investigated just like an accident and litigating measures procured. We went all the way far back, started to go through all of them, and we constituted a committee, that process is ongoing and you will be amazed the result we are getting with that.’’, he added.
In order to be more productive, achieve synergy and cohesion, he said that NAMA works more as a team with more effective output through coordination and communication.
“We now work as a team. Every week in NAMA, we have what we called non-technical meeting at 11 a.m. Every director chairs it. We have accomplished a lot with that synergy. We just started doing it, we were not doing it before in NAMA. We also do technical meetings with engineering and operations, if you see the issues that come up. So, that synergy is forged heavily.
“Then the issue of communications of our upper airspace which is a growing concern. When we went to Norway, we came up with an analysis, even though we had the idea, we had the idea for like 30 years, but we needed solution. So, they are doing an analysis of our system, it’s like scan and they will come up with digital document. We have engaged two different companies on this.
Speaking on power issue and other projects, Odunowo lamented that it was affecting the agency’s revenue and disclosed that the agency is looking at using other energy alternatives like solar and lithium in addition to the traditional diesel-powered generators, which have become high money guzzlers due to the high price of fuel.
“We have conducted a proper power audit for each station, power is killing us, we are bleeding and we need to do something about, it will soon be a problem of the past,” he further said.
Odunowo said he inherited a lot of projects and the agency is poised to complete them, noting that when these projects are completed, NAMA will be totally transformed and decried paucity of funds, which is a major challenge.
“NAMA has close to 20 projects ongoing right now and if we can deploy these projects, we are going to be the next best thing but the problem is we have funds challenge, so what we have done is we constituted a project review committee and the report is almost done, we are going be handing the interim report to the Minister of Aviation and the final report next week. We are reviewing and rescoping the projects, some of them are obsolete, we need to take hard decisions, we can’t afford some, we could phase some out.
“We also created Controller Pilot Information sharing analysis Centre. That is a major one. A lot of pilots are on this platform. Our controllers are also there, so that when they are complaining real life, director of operations is also on the platform, this is real life, we get complaints and we log it and fix it and we come back. We are going to be having a yearly seminar, the controller-pilots interactive forum. The clients are the pilots, they are the best people to get critique from, why not capitalise on it and take it seriously. We have over 70 pilots on that platform,’’ Odunowo added.