Interview: The Role of ATSEPs in Air Safety

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Engr. Bulus Bodam, GM Training and Licensing of ATSEPs in this interview speaks on the importance of the ATSEPs to air safety.

NAMA GM Training and Licensing, Engr. Bulus Bodam


The ATSEPs as far as aviation air safety is concern, forms one of the links of the safety chain and as it is often said, in any system and in any link, the strength of such a link is determined by the weakest link, therefore anytime safety is talked about and the ATSEPs is envisioned to be part of, invariably safety could be said not to have been completed.

The next thing is that what is the place of ATSEPs and how does it relate even in the sector?

We will put it in the perspective of everyday understanding, principally there is a machine and off course there is the human and humans operate the machine, so an aircraft for instance will need to establish contact and communication with certain personnel and the air traffic service which are the controllers.

These things are done technically with instruments and facilities. Most of these facilities are ground related, that is where the place of ATSEPs comes in. The aircraft from origin to destination needed to be guided by ground systems that are electronically installed at strategic locations for guidance and communication till destinations and each of this location you will find that ATSEPs has equipment man there, he has communication equipment man there and off course as they operate optimally, the controller now have the interface with that aircraft.

So in a nutshell and in a layman’s point of view it is the ATSEPs that now install these systems, maintain these systems, operates them is not seen in that safety chain definitely incidences are already being invited and by virtue of this background, ATSEPs stands also very, very important in the safety chain of the aviation industry.
You mentioned the communication equipment as part of the facilities you cater to, what other facilities do you also look at?

The facilities under the jurisdiction of an ATSEPs are communication systems, surveillance systems and navigational systems but do these systems just operate in the air, the answer is NO, that is where their primary source of their operation is the power system. This full distinct departments in the ATSEPs Directorate are responsible to what entails the entire operations of our facilities.
What can you tell us about the communication systems which ala falls under the purview of ATSEPs?
Over time we have challenges on communication and repeatedly NAMA has been deploying State-of-the-art equipment and resources to address that. This resulted into segmentations of the airspace within Lagos here , we have the Eastern and Western axis all with the mind of addressing all the issues we were having in the past and low and behold the flying public we bear us witness that there had been a drastic improvement in the system.
So, has sectorization really helped the system?
Obviously yes, it is just a game of congestion just like in every traffic situation where you have a bulk, it is prone to obstacles and obstructions and things like that delays and so on, it is just a game of workload, if you were taking that too much and they reduce for you, you will be more efficient in what you are doing, we have achieved a lot through that.

Are you satisfied with the licensing of ATSEPs
Well licensing yes, as it is now in an entire workforce of about 500+ ATSEPs we may have less than 50 that are not yet, a greater percentage have license with their associated ratings.
What is your relationship with NAMA, are you getting the needed support?
It is a two way traffic, it is collaborative, ATSEPs there is one, we have professional associations that are into ensuring, a kind of pressure group and a check back system and as it is, government are also responding to issues as they are being raised as they affect ATSEPs and the practice so, obviously, it is suitable relationship through where issues are discussed on the basis of their merit.
What has been the effects of pandemic on your operations?
It is really global and everywhere, the effects as it is are very, very challenging, it has direct effects on our training programme because the resources are no longer as adequate, it had never been adequate now that it had depleted so, it has become a major challenge that we are facing. Just as it is not just typical to aviation industry, we could say, we are the hard hit because the covid, the travelling industry has been much more affected with the occurance of covid.

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