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AIRSPACE SAFETY: SIRIKA TASKS ATCs ON RPAS INTEGRATION
 
Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika has charged Air Traffic Controllers in the country to work assiduously towards integrating the two worlds of manned aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in a safe and efficient way, granted that both aircraft will be using the same airspace.  Giving this charge at the recently concluded 46th Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) which held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, the Minister who noted that “Remotely Piloted Aircraft SYsytems are becoming a part of our day-to-day lives” enjoined NATCA and its members to use the forum and “holistically address current and future questions on RPAS integration as they affect the safety of the nation’s airspace.” Sen. Sirika who was represented on the occasion by the NAMA MD, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu congratulated NAMA on the commendation by major airlines on its improved services, assuring NATCA and its members of government’s determination to improve ATM technology and also invest in training and retraining of ATCOs. Also in his remarks, the Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, charged Air Traffic Controllers in the country to brainstorm and come up with practical and achievable solutions to problems encountered in the provision of air traffic control services in their respective airports across the nation. He said there was the need for NATCA and its members to “re-invent their professional ethos, ethics and commitment, by avoiding every behavour that threatens the safe provision of service,” stressing that “we must draw a line between human error and willful or negligent violation of rules in the provision of service.”Akinkuotu who assured NATCA members that management would consider their resolutions at the end of the AGM/conference as a guidance material in improving the system noted that the agency was mindful of its responsibility to provide the necessary tools, capacities and environment that would ensure optimal human performance in Air Traffic Control. He said NAMA under his leadership has invested heavily in the training of critical manpower just as it is leaving no stone unturned in upgrading infrastructure and deploying new technologies that would bring about enhanced efficiency and reliability of Communication, Navigation, Surveillance/ Air Traffic Management services in the country. In his welcome address, the National President of NATCA, Mr Vincent Eyaru appreciated NAMA management for embarking on the training of various categories of ATCOs and also “positively addressing” other issues that affect their work environment even as he enjoined members to remain committed and dedicated to their duties. A communique at the end of deliberations inter alia, urged the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to fast track the implementation of regulatory framework guiding the operations of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems within the Nigerian airspace and NAMA to speed up ongoing upgrade of VHF Radios and other associated facilities to meet industry standards. A well-attended programme, this year’s AGM/Conference of NATCA with the theme: Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Air Traffic Management attracted stakeholders, industrialists, bankers and investors from within and outside the country. 

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