The Senate Committee on Aviation, which toured airport facilities and projects last in a verification exercise, has expressed satisfaction with the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) project and described it as the most modern system for airspace surveillance.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Hope Uzodimma, said the value of the project has not been well appreciated because of the criticisms that attended its establishment, "TRACON has not been managed well because of petitions here and there, but this is a project that has been justified. It has not been managed well in terms of public perception."
Uzodimma said TRACON is the most sophisticated system in the world at the moment and wanted to know the original scope and concept.
The officials of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) explained to the committee that the multi-billion naira TRACON project has been completed and closed.
The officials also explained that NAMA has maintenance arrangement with Thales ATM of France which involved training of the agency's officials and it would last for five years with unlimited repairs, adding that AOM firm is in charge of the maintenance.
Under the maintenance agreement, Thales ATM has trained over 100 NAMA officers on the use of TRACON and would be training 12 engineers every year for the agency.
The Director of Safety Electronics and Engineering Services, Ifeanyi Nwankwo, was emphatic in his response when he declared that "all the deliverables and the scope of the project have been delivered and completed by the foreign contractor-Thales ATM of France and the system is working at optimal level."
He told the Senators that the system was characterised by some overlays like ADS-B which allows the radar to accommodate technology upgrade as new ones evolve.
The Senators, who watched live coverage of the airspace on the new radar system, were impressed by what they saw but wanted to know the scope of the maintenance contract with Thales, and they were told that the existing contract comes with unlimited spares and to lapse in the next two years having commenced three years ago.
TRACON was launched by President Goodluck Jonathan on October18, 2010 in Abuja and since then it has improved tremendously the quality of air traffic services in the country's airspace, recording more over flyers.