Dearth of personnel and seemingly nonchalant posture to give adequate training to the existing communicators in the Nigerian aviation sector by government, formed the fulcrum of discussions at the 4th Annual General Meeting, AGM, and the International Federation of Aeronautical Communications Association, IFACA), put together by the National Aeronautical Communicators Association of Nigeria, NACAN, recently in Lagos.
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Feelers from the gathering which turned to be a get together of notable figures in the global aviation sector, indicated that only 97 competent communicators cover for the 24 national airports scattered across the country while those personnel are made to go through agonising experience in going about their duties, due to lack of requisite training to update them for the job.
According to Comrade Nkambo George, chief host and National President of NACAN(pictured), who spoke at the event, “there was no employment into the department between 1989 and 2012, a period of twenty three, (23), years,” hence the lingering acute shortage of manpower.
The safety implication of this situation is enormous, considering the vital roles communicators play in ensuring safe flight operations on a day to day basis.
The Aeronautical Telecommunications Service, COMS, was set up by the world aviation regulatory body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, as one of eleven technical divisions to formulate standards and procedures for global operation of which that of Aeronautical communication Procedures is key.
The Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, is saddled with the responsibility to providing the needed support for the department to perform to its optimum requirements.
But the NACAN president said “ it is sad to mention that certain elements in the agency are bent to merge or integrate two operational departments saddled with distinct functions,” and thus jeopardising the full flow of operations and efficiency of the department.
“Aeronautical Telecommunications (COMMS) is found in Annex 10 Vol. II of the ICAO Convention while the Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) is on ICAO Annex 15. But these elements want these departments merged or integrated when ICAO, the governing body, has not directed any contracting state to do so,” Comrade George stated.
He lamented with regrets that the situation has dealt a heavy blow on the growth of the department to its expected global standard and thus urged relevant authorities to wade into the matter with a view to rectify all anomalies in the interest of air safety in the country.
“The department is constantly threatened by this monster to the extent that all the mandatory local and foreign courses the profession ought to undergo for currency and provision of safety services to the flying public have all been put on hold for more than five years, even when budgetary allocations are made annually for this.
“Again, I have the singular honour to appeal to the leadership of NAMA on behalf of the association and indeed the entire department, to do something fast in order for the profession to concentrate on offering aeronautical fixed service responsibilities,” he stressed.
Air Traffic Communications, as spelt out in ICAO Annex 10 Vol.II, is necessary for the exchange of air traffic service messages.
Aircrafts entering into Nigerian airspace get connected to Nigeria Flight Information Region, FIR, first, through AFTN/AMHS on High Frequency, HF, before Radar/Area Control (Air Traffic controllers), take over, for guilded, efficient and safe landing and take off.
By Gboyega Adeoye