The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has successfully conducted the site acceptance test for its newly installed surface movement radar and ground control systems in Abuja and Lagos airports.
This is to enable air traffic controllers to monitor aircraft and vehicular movement during low visibility or night time.
Speaking while conducting the site acceptance test of the radar equipment in Lagos and Abuja, the Acting Managing Director of NAMA, Mr. Matthew Pwajok said in furtherance to its quest to enhance the safety and efficiency of flight operations in Nigeria, the agency had embarked on the procurement of the surface movement radar due to its capability for detection, monitoring, and control of aircraft and vehicles on the ground.
According to him, this is for the purpose of preventing collision between aircraft, and between aircraft and vehicles as well as between aircraft and obstacles on the ground, runway, taxiway, and apron.
Speaking further, the NAMA MD said the surface movement radar would greatly enhance safety as it would help prevent runway incursions, excursions, and confusion.
Surface movement radar, Mr. Pwajok stated would boost Category III Instrument Landing Systems operations because with CAT III, aircraft can land at zero visibility while the surface movement radar would then enable the controllers even at zero visibility to separate and control aircraft to the gate as well as those taxiing from the gate to takeoff very efficiently.
“Sometimes an aircraft is given an instruction to a particular taxi link and it enters the wrong link. If visibility is very poor or the place is dark, the air traffic controller will not know. Surface movement radar would therefore enable the controller to see clearly that the aircraft is in the right link. It would enhance safety on the ground by preventing collisions between aircraft. The issue of delaying aircraft by waiting for the weather to improve will be a thing of the past”.
He disclosed that, the agency was working with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the airlines to ensure that all vehicles coming to the airside carry a transponder to enable the surface movement radar to identify them and the controller to communicate and control them.
“The surface movement radar can be used when aircraft land in poor weather conditions. In most cases the airport is shut down because pilots can’t see and can’t taxi so they would have to wait until there is weather improvement. But with the surface movement radar we can guide aircraft on landing, to the parking gate and, on departure, we can guide them from the parking gate to the runway for takeoff as everything is displayed on the console. The same way the radar sees aircraft in the air, this one will see aircraft and vehicles as they are moving on the ground”.
On the training of personnel for the equipment, the NAMA boss said engineers had already been trained since last year while arrangements have been concluded for 12 air traffic controllers to proceed for training in a matter of days.