Total Radar Coverage For A Safer Nigeria Airspace

PRESENTATION DURING THE 2ND ANNUAL WAI NIGERIA CONFERENCE IN NOVEMBER 2010 BY: FATOKUN EUNICE AMEN (Chief Air Traffic Controller , Lagos Int. Airport)

Radar is an acronym for “radio detection and ranging.” A radar system usually operates in the ultra-high-frequency (UHF) or microwave part of the radio-frequency (RF) spectrum, and is used to detect the position and/or movement of objects. Radar can track storm systems, because precipitation reflects electromagnetic fields at certain frequencies. Radar can also render precise maps. Radar systems are widely used in air-traffic control, aircraft navigation, and marine navigation.
Radar is use for surveillance. What it does is that it sends signals and the airplane receives those signals and sends it back to a television screen which tells the height of the aircraft, speed and distance , it’ll even give you the call sign of the aircraft. With it, you’ll see the aircraft moving real time. So, radar, in a layman’s language is like a close circuit camera. It gives a lot of data. What this means is that we now have the technology to reduce air disasters to the barest minimum and to police and protect Nigeria’s airspace from unauthorized entry.
The Radar works with interception of signals emitted from moving aircraft, which is relayed to the Area Control Centre’s for use by Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) for identification and monitoring aircraft movement within the Nigerian airspace.
The architectural design of TRACON consists of Voice Communication Systems (VCS) Voice Recording Systems (VRS), Very High Frequency Transceivers (VHFT), Fiber Optic, Display Consoles, Integrated Aircraft Billing Systems (IABS) and spares while radars at the international airports comprise both primary and secondary radars.
Total radar corvarage (TRACON), is a combination of many radar stations, is aimed at the provision of total radar coverage for the Nigerian airspace to enhance civil and military surveillance of aircraft operating into the Nigerian airspace.
The contract was awarded by the Federal Executive Council in 2003 with a completion period of 36 months that is, three years. The TRACON project comprises of four primary and five secondary radar heads co-located in Nnamdi Azikiwe, Murtala Muhammed, Mallam Aminu Kano and Portharcourt airports. TRACON project has provision for five stand alone secondary surveillance Radar located at Talata Mafara, Maiduguri, Numan, Obubura and Ilorin. Primary radar has a coverage range of 65 nautical miles while the secondary radar has coverage range of 250 nautical miles. The aim of the secondary radar is to have overlapping effects hence the total coverage.
The international airports have a combination of primary and secondary radars heads equipment in each location, it is housed in a Control Centre.

TRACON’S ADVANTAGES FOR A SAFER NIGERIA’S AIRSPACE
The total radar coverage of Nigeria is an initiative towards making air navigation in the country a safer one. The whole idea is to make the whole Nigerian airspace covered with radar where all the aircraft in flight would be seen by Air Traffic Controllers.
The old system of Air Traffic Control (procedural control) which is based on reports of positions, speed and level has been found to be inadequate with the continuous growth of the volume of air traffic.
Radar coverage of the entire Nigerian airspace with improved communication system will bring about a lot of advantages which include, but not limited to:
1. Enhanced safety since all aircraft will be under radar surveillance.
2. Reduction in aircraft incidents level.
3. Reduction in the workload of both Air Traffic Controllers and Pilots.
4. Eradication of blind spot within the airspace where aircraft fly
without proper surveillance by ATC.
5. More secured airspace since intruder aircraft can easily be monitored.
6. Improved Search and Rescue in events of aircraft in emergency.
7. Improved coordination of traffic with neighboring flight information regions(FIRs).
8. Increased safety level will encourage more foreign flights to use Nigerian airspace thereby increasing our revenue.
9. Increased airspace capacity.
10.Reduction in separation minimal
11.Provides circumnavigation around adverse weather and optimum weather routing, Reduced fuel consumption by flights.

Now that the four sites of TRACON are fully operational and the project officially commissioned by the President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja airport on October 18, 2010, the much-sought after safer Nigerian airspace has come to reality.

Presented by : Fatokun Eunice Amen (Mrs)
Chief Air Traffic Controller (Nigerian Airspace Management Agency)

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