Non- configuration of ILS at airports responsible for flights delay —Investigation

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By Seun Ibiyemi

Following the cancelation of several flights by Airlines  at Muritala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos last week, investigation by Nigerian NewsDirect has revealed that authority at the airport has failed to configure Instrument Landing System (ILS) after its initial installation months ago.

Investigation also revealed that many international flights have been diverted to neighboring countries like Ghana, among others due to the non configuration of the ILS

ILS is said to send radio waves down range from the runway end, with aircraft that intercept it using the radio waves to guide them onto the runway.

When contacted the General Manager, Public Relation Office of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Khalid Emele, said International flights are being  diverted to neighboring countries like Ghana, others due to poor ILS installation by NAMA and causing loss of revenue.He said that it is due to the weather and that is on Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) can speak on it, adding they know why we have issues with Landing in Nigeria

But all effort to contact Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) spokesperson prove abortive as at time of filing this report

Source who spoke on anonymity to Nigerian NewsDirect said that fundamentally it is an issue of incompetence by authorities in Nigeria’s aviation sector.

He also said that the reason KLM, Air France and Lufthansa have been able to land is because they have planes with onboard ILS which they allocated to this route after the first day of low visibility.

“Having onboard ILS is not industry standard, because all internationally certified airport are supposed to have ILS installed at the airport.

“MMA do not have this because since the systems were installed in August 2019 they have not gotten round to configuring the system (which ordinarily takes 2.5 weeks).

He added that “they have now flown in the specialists to do this configuration through Accra and then by road.

Recall that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)  appealed to passengers for their understandings over the prevailing flight delays and cancellations experienced in airports across the country due to the adverse weather situation.

In a statement made available to Nigerian NewsDirect by General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye said that the prevailing inclement weather is a global experience at the moment which had warranted cancellation of in-bound international flights alike; therefore, not peculiar to Nigeria.

This appeal is contained in a release issued by NCAA at the Aviation House on Thursday, February 13, 2020.

Earlier, the Authority had urged pilots, operators and other stakeholders to exercise restraints over harmattan dust haze and safety approach to adopt.

The Regulatory Agency issued an Advisory Circular (AC): NCAA-AEROMET-28 dated 12th November, 2019 alerting pilots of the hazards associated with dust haze. It is a dry and dusty wind that blows south from the Sahara across Nigeria which is expected to persist till March, 2020.

As issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency in its Seasonal Rainfall Prediction Bulletin-2019, the cessation of the rainy season was predicted from mid-October (in the Northern part) to early December, 2019 (in the Southern part).

With the issuance of this circular, Advisory Circular (AC): NCAA – AEROMET 27 dated 26th March, 2019 is accordingly cancelled.

Pilots/Operators are therefore directed to note the following hazards and operational problems forthwith in the interest of safety:

“Air-to-ground visibility may be considerably reduced due to dust haze; Aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed operating minima and in severe conditions, dust haze can blot out runways, markers and airfield lightings over wide areas making visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible; and Flights are bound to be delayed, diverted or cancelled where terminal visibility falls below the prescribed aerodrome operating minima.

“On the other hand, enumerated below are series of responsibilities for Pilots, Operators and Air Traffic Controllers: Pilots shall exercise maximum restraint when severe weather condition is observed or forecast by Nimet; Flight Crews/Operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) shall ensure adherence to aerodrome weather minima;   All Pilots shall obtain adequate departure, en-route, destination and alternate aerodromes weather information and briefing from the aerodrome meteorological office prior to flight operations; and  Operators shall ensure that necessary measures are put in place to cushion the effects of flight delays or cancellations on their passengers.

While Passengers must be informed of any development concerning their flights well ahead of time by the Airlines, the regulatory authority will expect strict compliance from all stakeholders regarding the Circular as violation will be seriously viewed.

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