Sunset Airports: NAMA insists aircraft can operate into airports 24/7, ILS brand new, no obsolete facilities

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The Acting Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) Mr. Mathew Lawrence Pwajok says, the agency has invested heavily on navigational facilities more than any other facilities to ensure aircraft operate at any time of the day into airports both government and state owed.

This is just as he frown on the idea of tagging some airports in the country as “sunrise” or “sunset airports”, given that almost all airports in Nigeria have instrument landing facilities for approach and landing, meaning they are operating based on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and not based on Visual Flight Rules (VFR) where they pilots are required to visually approach and land within Sunrise to Sunset time.

Pwajok while speaking during a panel discussion at the 26th Annual Conference of the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondent, LAAC held in Lagos said, the agency is working to install Category II Instrument Landing systems (CAT II ILS) in some airports namely Owerri and Jalingo that has no instrument landing system for now.

According to him, all airports in Nigeria have a minimum of CAT II ILS, most of which were installed brand new and so there is nothing like obsolete navigational facilities.

Explaining further, he disclosed that, the agency had commenced the implementation of Category III ILS in Abuja and Lagos airports to tackle visibility issues in some airports during adverse weather while Katsina, Kano and Port Harcourt were being installed and would be ready before the end of 2022. 

“Apart from one or two private aerodromes, all federal and state government owned airports managed by NAMA are equipped with Instrument Landing System (ILS), except where they are temporarily unserviceable or the Runway and Approach lights are unserviceable, but nevertheless you cannot refer to them as sunrise or sunset airports.”

In the area of search and rescue services, the NAMA boss assured airlines that the agency would provide the service during the hours of extension as the agency collaborates with sister agencies, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and other critical stakeholders, saying that as long as an airport remained open, search and rescue will be available for the period of operation.

On how the agency was managing the single runway operation in Lagos as a result of ongoing repairs at runway 18 Left, Pwajok said the agency developed contingency procedures for a single runway operation as against the two runways, and that the installation of lighting at the runway would complement the CAT II ILS installed there in order to bring about 24 hours operation and also serve as backup for the international runway (18 Right).

 “It is very important that we address this issue of domestic runway 18 Left which has been in the dark for 20 years. It is a difficult thing for the airlines, pilots and air traffic controllers, but we are coping with it, knowing that that is the only way we can increase operating capacity of the airport when we have two functional runways”. 

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