Ogochukwu Ifeanyi, chief information officer (CIO), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (Nama), has over 15 years experience in the information and technologies space. His first class education locally and internationally stands him out. Ogochukwu, a Microsoft Global Hero is also a member of several professional bodies both national and international. He spoke to peter ugwu on state of ICT in Nigeria’s Aviation Industry.
ICT Department of Nama
Thank you. Well the ICT department in Nama is structured into four principal business units, namely Information Technology Service Management (ITSM); Business Intelligence Systems (BIS), Network Communications (NetComs) and Business Operations Support (BOS) reporting to the CIO.
For us in ICT department, to underscore our critical role and align technology to corporate business objectives we couched a vision which is, “…making ICT work for air navigation” with a supporting mission statement: “to provide leadership and guidance, service and support, education and technical expertise required to establish and maintain information communications technology systems for the Agency in accordance with its vision, mission, values and goals.”.
As you can see from this simple overview of the department that it completely aligns with and supports the vision and mission of Nama which is “To be one of the Leading Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) in the world” and “To provide safe, efficient and economic Air Navigation Services to airspace users, through the development of new technologies and dedicated workforce” respectively.
Total Radar Coverage of the Nigerian Airspace (TRACON)
First you need to understand that the TRACON project was a quantum leap for Nigeria in the area of rapid improvement of the existing CNS/ATM Infrastructure. It was therefore conceived as a key requirement for the modernization of Nigerian Air Traffic Management Infrastructure. It has Approach and Automated Area Control components. It was as major paradigm shift from analogue to digital technology, of course it also included satellite technologies.
You see the Nigerian TRACON project is a proudly Nigerian successful project that was executed by committed and dedicated Nama professionals and its one the best in Africa if not in the world. It’s an aviation state of the art cutting edge technology surveillance system manufactured by Thales of France. It has a support service program that ensures the continuous availability of this service for the safety of air navigation.
Its effectiveness is not questionable because it covers the Nigerian Airspace and even the contiguous (Flight Information Regions (FIRs) like Niamey, Brazzaville, Accra, etc.
Taking Over the Airfield Lighting, Bird Hazard Control from FAAN and Calibration Unit from NCAA
Well you aware it was a ministerial directive to Nama to take over that responsibility and Nama along with the relevant parastatals have complied.
The official handovers by NCAA and FAAN to Nama of the Flight Calibration Unit and the Airfield Lighting/Bird, Wild Life Control respectively has been done.
The parastatals have put in place well structured procedures and processes for this engagement and the process is already being consummated for smooth transition and transfers.
Settling Down to Work with the Huge Responsibilities
Nama through its thorough bred professional MD/CE has taking the new responsibilities in its stride and are gracefully re-engineering and transforming that part of the aviation environment in line with the Federal Government agenda for aviation as enunciated by the Honourable Minister of Aviation (HMA).
Nama is proactively building and enhancing capacity to ensure that it remains consistent with is excellent service delivery framework.
Dana Airline Crash and ICT
Well I will speak for Nama here and won’t hold brief for other agencies within the aviation sector. Nigeria is a class 2 International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) contracting state and therefore operates in line with ICAO standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). Nama in line with African and Indian Ocean (AFI) Region and ICAO Global Communications Navigations Surveillance and Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) plans is implementing its National CNS/ATM plan. That basically tells you that Nama as an organization is focused on international best practice and is implementing its informational and all technological infrastructure and human capital asset on that premise.
Installation of AIS Automation Antennas
This is a very critical safety project. Of course we are on course regarding that. All the processes have been completed to enable for the rapid deployment of not just the antennas but the VSAT System.
Migration from Terrestrial Air to Satellite-based Navigation
I need to quickly give a background to this: The advent of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) as a modern trend in air Navigation requires that spatial co-ordinate of points (be) established on an ICAO acceptable international terrestrial reference framework known as WGS-84. The reason being that, the future air navigation system will also use Communications, Navigations, and Surveillance (CNS) technologies tied to the WGS-84 platform to function.
The completion of the project therefore enabled for Performance –Based-Navigation (PBN) implementation with deliverables that will enable us to transit form Terrestrial to Satellite based systems.
Having said that the significance of the successful pilot flight test indicates that migration is positive and more importantly the features include: more flexible and direct routing i.e. pilot preferred trajectories; enables instrument approach where and when NAVAIDs is unavailable, no ground based equipment, no electric power required while the accrued benefits include reduced fuel consumption and emissions, reduction of flight distances/times, increased availability of airports in poor weather conditions, life cycle cost savings even for the airlines .
Capacity to Sustain the Process when Fully Adopted
Don’t forget that this is a satellite enabled navigation service but really apart from that Nama has in the course of this project engaged in capacity building across the industry. Trainings were done for the industry stakeholders: Airlines, Nama, NCAA, FAAN, Air force amongst others.
Nama has also gone ahead to train Air Traffic Controllers in Lagos and Kano on this new service delivery and more will be trained. These are all geared towards ensuring that the necessary capacity is available.
Recent Dana Air Crash
The recent Dana Air Crash was a tragic one for Nigeria and particularly for my organization and my person because we lost a dear colleague, friend and brother in the same crash. It was such a sad and unfortunate incident and my take is simple we should wait for the reports of the various investigations. I believe there will be valuable lessons to be learned.
Clamor for Merger among Airlines
Interestingly Airlines are business concerns and they are in business to invest and get returns on such investments. It’s not Nama’s remit to regulate airline operations but there are regulatory framework and controls that governs airlines operations which every potential or existing airline must continuously meet.
Nama values its human capital as a critical asset and therefore invests in its people. Continuous training and re– training is an inherent culture of NAMA because she recognizes the need for a highly professionalized competent workforce in a safety critical domain such as Air Navigation.