Uche Usim, Abuja
Barring the unforeseen, Lagos, Abuja and Kano airports are to get new Category 3 Instrument Landing System (ILS) navigational aids to boost flight safety and efficiency.
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, who made the disclosure in Abuja on the side-lines of the commissioning of the new terminal in Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport said the Category 3 ILS for Lagos and Abuja airports would be ready by January 2019, while that of Kano would come thereafter.
According to him, the facility, when installed, would improve airplanes’ capability to land in very poor visibility and reduce flight delays and cancellations that come with it. It would also replace the Category 2 ILS currently in the aforementioned airports.
He said: “We are close to achieving a higher-level landing navigational aid in Abuja in anticipation of the new international terminal. Except for some bureaucratic bottleneck, we should have had a Category 3 landing system here.
“As it is, we have the Instrument Landing System (ILS) Category 2 which allows us to fly as some reduced visibility and we would be able to fly lower than Category 1 ILS. Approval has been given, contracts have been awarded and construction has started for the installation of the Category 3 landing system.
“There are different categories of Category 3; there are categories A, B and C but in any of these categories, an airplane should be able to land at a very poor visibility. With categories 3 A, B or C, you should be able to land at a very marginal weather but with a certain category, you can land at a zero visibility,” he explained.
Akinkuotu said it was not only NAMA that would have to prepare for the next level, but other sister agencies involved in flight operations.
“This is because installing a Category 3 will require that all of us improve on our own capabilities. We must have uninterrupted power supply; the airplane will have to be properly equipped; the pilot will have to be properly trained for low visibility approaches and our approach light will have to meet Category 3 but the starting point is to ensure that we have it and everybody has been sensitised on what is coming for us to be able to take full advantage.
“In the conceptualisation and design of the terminal building, there were some kinds of flaws that were observed that the terminal as it were designed, made it difficult for the control tower to see in totality or to have a complete aerial view of the two end of runway. This will be fixed in medium term because with the adjustment of the master plan, we will achieve that. However, since it is a necessity for the air traffic controllers to be able to have visible access to both ends of the runway, we provided a mobile tower,” he added.
The NAMA boss also said the agency would continue to improve on its services, especially in the area of aeronautical information system.