By Sade Williams/Business a.m.
Thomas Schlesinger, Austrian ambassador to Nigeria, has given a strong path on the back to Matthew Pwajok, acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and his team for enhancing safety, efficiency and economy of air navigation by partnering with AVSATEL Communications Limited in the provision of world class air traffic management systems, communication systems, surveillance monitors, and meteorological systems at Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt control towers, under the safe tower project that automated the provisional air traffic services at Nigerian international airports.
The ambassador made these remarks during a courtesy visit to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja on Friday.
Schlesinger said, “I am very humbled by your responsibility here because the lives of passengers and the lives of military personnel in flight rests in your hands. And that is something which we always have to be reminded of when you rightly recall the sad air accidents of 2005 and 2006 because at that time, you didn’t have this safety critical equipment that have now transformed the air navigation system in Nigeria. So, it is also very reassuring, as private persons, because we frequently sit in airplanes, whether in Nigerian planes or other international planes, and it’s good to know that our safety is guaranteed. And I’m very grateful, very grateful. I am very impressed by the beautiful work you are doing.”
Pwajok, while addressing the ambassador, who was in company of Antonia Bierbaumer, embassy secretary, and George Eder, managing director, AVSATEL Communications, praised AVSATEL for providing NAMA with a very effective and efficient equipment that has greatly enhanced safety in the Nigerian Airspace over the years.
According to the NAMA boss, “AVSATEL provided us with one of the best equipment ever, I must confess. One of the very first projects that brought Nigeria to limelight internationally with the provision of automated or electronic air traffic management systems in our control towers in 2007.
It will be recalled that Nigeria had previously recorded a series of aircraft fatal accidents in 2005 and 2006 and the then government of Nigeria intervened through the ‘Safe Tower’ project that included meteorological sensors for real-time weather reporting and Low Level Wind-shear Alerting Systems.
The project provided air traffic controllers with enhanced capacity through the electronic flight progress strip management system, as well as the accompanying voice communication and control system for ground-ground communication between air traffic control units and for air-ground communication between air traffic control and aircraft in flight.
The integration of meteorological sensors that were deployed at the airside of the international airports under the ‘Safe Tower’ project, providing digital real time meteorological information, has greatly enhanced air safety – the lack of these safety critical facilities was partly responsible for some of the weather-related air crashes in 2005 and 2006. It’s a fantastic project and when it was delivered in 2007, there was no country in Africa that had it and we are very proud to say that it was the first automated air traffic management control tower system in the whole of Africa,” Pwajok
The NAMA boss said the agency is statutorily responsible for the provision of air navigation services including air traffic services, aeronautical information services, aeronautical communication services, and aeronautical search and rescue services supported by the deployment of communication, navigation and surveillance infrastructure.
He added that the agency is currently responsible for the provision of these services and facilities at 40 federal, state and privately-owned airports, as well as at jointly used military airports.
Pwajok and his management team also took the ambassador on a tour of NAMA facilities at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport.
The facilities visited include the Abuja Airport Control Tower where the safe tower equipment was first installed and currently soft and hardware system upgrade.
The ambassador also visited the newly deployed ATC Mobile Control Tower for surface movement and ground control, as well as the Abuja Radar complex where he was amazed with the intricacies of air traffic control and summed his visit as “a most memorable day in my life that I will never forget.”
Pwajok then, on behalf of management and, entire staff of the agency, thanked the Austrian ambassador. His excellency, Thomas Schlesinger, and members of the AVSATEL Communication Limited, for the visit.