BusinessDay

NAMA tasks ICAO on licensing for air traffic safety personnel

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has charged the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to consider as a matter of urgency, the inclusion of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel (ATSEP) licensing in its Annex 1 to the Chicago Convention.

This, the agency says, will place the responsibility to ensure safety on the holder because a licence is the confirmation of competence in a specific safety related area.

Speaking at the just concluded ninth International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Associations (IFATSEA) hosted by the National Association of Air Traffic Engineers (NAAE) in Abuja, Fola Akinkuotu, managing director of NAMA, said although the demand for the licensing of ATSEPs had been a recurring issue in the ICAO General Assembly yearly due to efforts of IFATSEA to give it a “loud voice,” stakeholders in the industry had the onerous duty to ensure that this message resonated globally given the safety-critical role ATSEPs play in the aviation sector.

Akinkuotu said as an agency with the largest concentration of ATSEPs in Nigeria, NAMA would continue to support the advocacy for the inclusion of ATSEP licensing in ICAO Annex 1, as this would give them a sense of accountability and commitment to duty.

“Licensing of critical personnel in the aviation industry is fundamental to safety. We are demanding for license so that we can hold people responsible for their actions. The fact that a license unlike a university degree can be withdrawn makes the holder extremely responsible and careful in taking safety-critical decisions,” he said.

The NAMA boss said in recognition of the immense contribution of ATSEPs to safety in the nation’s aviation sector, Nigeria has an operating ATSEP licensing and rating programme included in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (NCAR), which NAMA is vigorously implementing as required, stressing that the programme had gone a long way in increasing the competency of ATSEPS in the country.

Akinkuotu, who was full of gratitude to the ATSEPs, said, “NAMA engineers have proved that they can stand their own in every situation and they have continued to ensure that our navigational equipment propagate accurate and reliable signals thereby ensuring safety of air travel in the country.”

Earlier in his remarks, Sabiu Zakari, permanent secretary, Ministry of Transportation, said the professionalisation of ATSEP had become indispensable as it would create the link between air traffic controllers and pilots, as is the practice globally.

Zakari, who was represented by the Director of Human resources, Nkeiru Ejiofor, said Nigeria has been a significant affiliate of IFATSEA and a flagship of safety in the region, even as he tasked participants to “churn out realisable and realistic strategies and modalities to enhance safety in the African airspace and the entire global aviation environment.”

Also in his welcome address, Ishaya Dung, the President, National Association of Air Traffic Engineers (NAAE), amented that in spite of concerted efforts by members over the years, ATSEPs were yet to be recognised by ICAO Annex 1, saying this development had impacted negatively on the psychology of members worldwide, making it a safety concern. He therefore called on stakeholders to back the association in its plan to represent the “safety case” in the forthcoming ICAO General assembly in September 2019.

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