The Nigerian airspace pilots have mandated the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to fix the recurrent communication difficulties they experience while flying, to prevent air accidents.
The pilots discussed this at the Aviation Roundtable Quarterly meeting themed: “Safety Challenges in Air Navigation and Air Traffic Service Delivery in Nigeria” at the Goldview Hotel & Suites, GRA Lagos.
During the meeting, the Chief Pilot of Med-View Airline, Captain Stephen Fevrier, said that pilots constantly fly in a dangered airspace due to the poor communication system.
Having scored NAMA about 50% based on their service delivery, Fevrier reiterated that they needed to do more because the airspace is still unsafe for flying.
“I came to Nigeria about 12 years ago and the first thing that we were told to learn as pilots are to say ‘break-break’ when you get into the airspace and that is because the airspace is congested. I must say that the airspace is still congested and unsafe for pilots to fly.” He said.
Speaking concerning the airspace from Lagos to Abuja, the captain said that pilots often lose contact with the Lagos control tower 200 miles into the airspace, ideally, this should not occur.
According to him, the same challenges were also faced in Port Harcourt and Abuja, also even coming into Nigerian airspace from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, pilots hardly communicate effectively with the control tower in Kano.
Fevrier added: “In Kano if you are coming from Jeddah to enter Nigerian airspace, you can’t speak to Kano. You have to wait until you get into a 100 miles into Kano most times. Even with the rains, 200 miles from Lagos becomes 150 miles.”
Arik Air Safety Manager, Captain Jide Bakare, also talked about the communication challenges faced in Nigerian airspace. He attested that it was the biggest issue Nigerian pilots face.
Bakare said: ”There are so many issues but communication is one of the biggest challenges that we face as pilots in Nigerian airspace. Captain Stephen has made mention of how difficult it is for us as pilots to communication while flying in the Nigerian airspace.”
Also lamenting in the same vein was Captain Prekeme Porbeni, a retired Air Pilot. He qualified the Total Radar Coverage as ‘absolutely wrong’. He stressed that present-day pilots in Nigeria are suffering while pilots in other nations are doing well because they have better airspace and good communication system.