Safe Air Navigation: Austrian Ambassador applauds NAMA for enhanced safety in partnership with AVSATEL

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The Austrian Ambassador, Thomas Schlesinger and the Ag. MD NAMA, Mr. Lawrence Pwajok

The Austrian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Thomas Schlesinger has commended the Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Mr. Matthew Pwajok and his team for enhancing safety, efficiency and economy of air navigation in partnering with AVSATEL Communications Limited.

He gave the commendation during a courtesy visit to the Agency’s headquarters in Abuja on Friday June 10, 2022. 

The Ambassador said, NAMA had partnered with AVSATEL  in the provision of world class Air Traffic Management systems, Communication systems, Surveillance Monitors and Meteorological systems at Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt Control Towers under the Safe Tower Project that automated the provision of air traffic services at Nigerian international airports.

“I am very humbled by your responsibility here because the lives of passengers and the lives of military personnel in flight rests in your hands. And that is something which we always have to be reminded of when you rightly recall the sad air accidents of 2005 and 2006 because at that time, you didn’t have this safety critical equipment that have now transformed the air navigation system in Nigeria. So, it is also very reassuring as private persons because we frequently sit in the airplanes whether in Nigerian planes or other international planes, and it’s good to know that our safety is guaranteed. And I’m very grateful, very grateful. I am very impressed by the beautiful work you are doing.”

Mr. Pwajok in his response to the Ambassador who was in company of the Embassy Secretary Ms. Antonia Bierbaumer and the Managing Director of AVSATEL Communications Mr. George Eder, praised AVSATEL for providing NAMA with a very effective and efficient equipment that has greatly enhanced safety in the Nigerian Airspace over the years.

According to the NAMA boss, “AVSATEL provided us with one of the best equipment ever, I must confess. One of the very first projects that brought Nigeria to limelight internationally with the provision of automated or electronic air traffic management systems in our Control Towers in 2007. It will be recalled that Nigeria had previously recorded series of aircraft fatal accidents in 2005 and 2006 and the then government of Nigeria intervened through the Safe Tower project that included meteorological sensors for real-time weather reporting and Low Level Wind-shear Alerting Systems”.

He added, “the project provided Air Traffic Controllers with enhanced capacity through the electronic flight progress strip management system, as well as the accompanying voice communication and control system for ground-ground communication between air traffic control units and for air-ground communication between air traffic control and aircraft in flight”.

Explaining further, the NAMA boss said, the integration of meteorological sensors that were deployed at the airside of these international airports under the safe tower project providing digital real time meteorological information has greatly enhanced air safety.

“The lack of these safety critical facilities was partly responsible for some of the weather-related air crashes in 2005 and 2006. It’s a fantastic project and when it was delivered in 2007, there was no country in Africa that had it and we are very proud to say that it was the first automated air traffic management Control Tower system in the whole of Africa.”

He said the agency is statutorily responsible for the provision of air navigation services including air traffic services, aeronautical information services, aeronautical communication services, and aeronautical search and rescue services supported by the deployment of communication, navigation and surveillance infrastructure.  

According to him, the Agency is currently responsible for the provision these services and facilities at 40 federal, state and privately-owned airports, as well as at jointly used military airports.

The NAMA MD also used the occasion to highlight some safety critical  projects that have been completed or ongoing under the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, which include the successful installation of Instrument landing Systems Category III at Abuja and Lagos; duffel installation of ILS Category II in 10 airports; successful installation of Doppler VORs in 10 airports; procurement of a new flight calibration aircraft; as well as ongoing deployment of Surface Movement Radar at Lagos and Abuja.

Others are; the Traffic Sequencing Arrival Manager and Departure Managers at Lagos and Abuja; ongoing installation of ILS Category III at Kano, Katsina and Port Harcourt; deployment of Wide Area Multilateration System in the Niger Delta and Upgrade of Total Radar Coverage nationwide, etc.

The NAMA MD and his management team also took the ambassador on a tour of NAMA facilities at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport. The facilities visited include the Abuja airport Control Tower where the safe tower equipment was first installed and currently undergoing soft and hardware system upgrade.

The Austrian ambassador also visited the newly deployed ATC Mobile Control Tower for surface movement and ground control. His Excellency was also taken to the Abuja Radar complex where he was amazed with the intricacies of air traffic control and summed his visit as “a most memorable day in my life that I will never forget”.

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