This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Govt Re-Opens Maiduguri Airport

The federal government has re-opened the Maiduguri International Airport in Borno State for civil, scheduled and unscheduled flight services after the Boko Haram attack on December 2, 2013.

This was disclosed by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nnamdi Udoh, who stated that some of the agency's equipment, including components of the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON), power generating sets and instrument landing system (ILS) destroyed by the attack had been restored by NAMA.

Although commercial flight services has not started in the airport, Udoh said airlines could now resume flight operations as the damaged navigation equipment at the airport has been fixed.

The managing director of NAMA said the federal government had also installed some sophisticated air navigation equipment at the airport to boost surveillance around the country's borders with Cameroon where, according to him, there is increased infiltration of suspected terrorists.

"We initially had some communication problem in the airspace around Maiduguri due to the attack on TRACON by the Boko Haram sect, but that's history now, because the TRACON has been fixed.

"The Maiduguri airport has now been re-opened. The governor of the state has donated a power generating set to facilitate the re-opening of the airport, and now, the TRACON is fully operational," Udoh said.

He said the insecurity in the area has prompted the federal government to introduce a new air navigation technology called wide area augmentation and automatic data surveillance broadcast which has been installed around the airport to boost security.

Udoh said the same technology was being deployed in the Niger Delta area, for helicopters involved in oil and gas operations.

"We have finished the survey for the Niger Delta area for this year, and we have gotten the report so we want to deploy ADSB and multi-alteration which come under wide area of augmentation system.

"Now we are going to need this around Maiduguri and Yola airports because of the security issue. We are collaborating with the military on how to see this through," Udoh said.

On communication in the airspace, the NAMA boss said the VHF radio coverage of Nigeria had effectively covered the whole airspace and whenever there are hiccups, the agency's engineer would fix it, adding that unlike in the past, poor communication in the airspace has become a thing of the past.

"VHF radio is available; of course if there is a power failure, someone will fix it, if there is frequency deficiency, someone is there to fix it.

"For instance, how would anybody expect that a new airplane that belongs to Airbus crashed on its first flight? Technology is not perfect but whenever problem arises we fix it," he said.

Udoh said the radio1273 which is the Southern frequency and the 1209 which is the Northern frequency based in Sokoto and Maiduguri are working, adding that protracted power outage could disrupt communication in areas like Maiduguri which all the time rely on electricity from the generators.

"So, during those periods, those challenges arose and it affected us, it is not a question of maybe it is not available, so between Jos and Yola, if nobody could talk to you, you just blamed it on power failure. So now the problem of communication has been conquered; we can only be improving on what we have achieved," Udoh stated.

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