By Louis Ibah
Nigeria’s aviation industry regulator has expressed concern over-ageing air traffic controllers given the inherent danger the trend poses to air safety.
This comes as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) complained recently about the depleting number of personnel being designated to direct air traffic at the various control towers across airports in the country. Managing Director/CEO of the Nigerian Airspace Manegement Agency (NAMA) Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, who addressed a gathering of air traffic controllers in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State recently acknowledged receipt of a recommendation by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority for the hiring and training of young Nigerians as air traffic controllers to replace the aging and retiring ones.
Akinkuotu said NAMA had recently engaged the services of over 40 Air Traffic Control cadets to undergo various levels of training as recommended by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). He said his administration places premium on safety over any other consideration and that efforts were underway to increase the number of young air trafic controllers to a level consistent with global best practices. Akinkuotu said as part of the effort to enhance safety of the airspace, a total of 150 Air Traffic Controllers had in the past 10 months been trained in different cadres and specialisations of Air Traffic Control (ATC).
He listed these trainings to include Basic ATCO Course (Aerodrome and Approach); Area/Airways Non-Radar Control; Aeronautical Search and Rescue Mission Coordinators Course; as well as other management skills development workshops and conferences which are all aimed at sharpening the skills of ATC systems managers.
“The above recruitments and training activities are targeted at not only enhancing ATC human capacities, but also providing a more efficient Air Traffic Management system, in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Global Air Navigation Plan,” he said.
The NAMA boss also noted that in order to achieve even distribution of ATC manpower among airports and stations in the country, the agency had carried out a large number of staff postings as demanded by workload. Akinkuotu also said the NAMA had engaged the services of the Centre for Management Development, for the training of middle level management personnel across the country in administrative and management principles and practices.