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Aviation

Stakeholders Seek Airspace Facilities Upgrade

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The Rector, Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, Mr Abdulsalam Mohammed, has called for immediate integration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) into the nation’s airspace for safe operations.
Mohammed made the call at a RPAS Symposium organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Abuja, Tuesday.
He said it would be challenging to maintain separation between manned and unmanned aircraft in the airspace because of the difference in their operations.
The Rector said that there was need to have strong regulation in the industry to discourage indiscriminate use of RPAS, especially in environments where there were security challenges.
He said that regulation should be designed to address the safety concerns, particularly with the commercial drone users that may have around 12.5 kilogrammes of RPAS.
According to him, the regulatory requirements, most times, create unnecessary bottleneck for legitimate end-users like the media, health, medical and other industries.
Mohammed, however, advised that steps should be taken to discourage indiscriminate use of drones.
“RPAS operates below 500 feet; this means it is necessary to quickly integrate RPAS with other airspace users like the helicopters, general aviation, other aircraft used for recreation and aircraft operating around airport.
“Another key challenge is enabling RPAS to detect other airspace users, including other aircrafts and making RPAS detectable to other airspace users.
“On the safety concern, due to the rapid growth of the industry, RPAS and manned and unmanned airport operations may need to be quickly integrated,” he said.
He said that NCAT had the capacity to train drone users, and expressed hope that the college would be an approved regional training institution for RPAS.
Mohammed also called for training of users of manned and unmanned aircrafts as well as Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) to ensure safe and secure usage of African airspace.
Also, , Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA),Mr Fola Akinkuotu said there would be challenges in integrating the RPAS system into the nation’s airspace because of the expected increase in traffic.
He said that the airspace, like the road traffic, when congested, needed better control and ways that accident could be discouraged because of increase in traffic.
According to him, the congestions are going to be heavy, and what NAMA has to do is to take actions that will mitigate the consequence of the increase.
“We will have to design systems so that increase in drone would not impart on civil or manned traffic that we have today.
“Do we have segregated drone corridors? Do we have drones only operated from a particular area? Do we have a system where we will allow them to go into controlling their own space?

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Aviation

COVID-19: Arik Airline Sacks 300 Staff

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At least 300 staff of Arik Air have been relieved of their appointments by the airline’s management.

This was announced in a statement by the airline on Friday.
It blamed the sacking on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The press statement was titled, “Arik Air management declares 300 staff redundant”.
The company explained that a redundancy package would be provided for the affected workers with the help of the aviation unions.
The statement read in part, “Arising from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the constrained ability of the airline to complete heavy maintenance activities and return its planes to operations, stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations.
“The leadership of the impacted unions has been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff.”
The airline added that over 50 per cent of its workforce of over 1,600 staff have been on furlough in the past six months.
In a separate statement also forwarded to our correspondent by its Public Relations and Communications Manager, Banji Ola, the airline apologised to passengers whose travel plans were disrupted by the protest carried out by the National Union of Air Transport Employees on December 3, 2020.
The picketing disrupted operations in Lagos and prevented the airline from processing passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal 1 and 2.

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S’East Leaders Laud FG Over EndSARS

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South-East leaders on Saturday, lauded the Federal Government on the matured and responsive manner it handled all issues relating to the EndSARS protest and agitation.
The leaders of the zone, which included Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members as well as traditional, religious and youth leaders, gave the commendation in a communiqué issued after their meeting with a Presidential delegation in Enugu.
The presidential delegation was led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who is the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thank President Buhari for the speed and restraint with which he handled the EndSARS protest, which has engendered peace throughout the country, especially the South-East.
“We, therefore, request the President to look into demands of various groups and youths with a view to resolving them,’’ the statement, which was read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, Governor Dave Umehi, said.
It also called for joint operation by security agencies and local vigilant groups into all forests in the zone to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47 rifles.
“But we pledge our commitment to continuous coexistence with peaceful herdsmen who have been living peacefully with us.
“We stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. We believe that under this platform – NIGERIA; we are bigger and stronger,’’ it said.
It also called on the Federal Government to continue its support and diplomatic push for the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be elected as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The statement thanked the Federal Government for the timely interventions in Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation as well as intervention in road infrastructures in the zone.
“We are grateful for the attention given to the second Niger Bridge and completion and inauguration of the Zik’s mausoleum.
“However, we urge the Federal Government to give attention to the completion of the current road projects within the zone,’’ it said.
The statement said that the states in the zone will provide money for the compensation for those affected by the EndSARS protest, help to rebuild police stations and their logistics; while engaging the youths constantly to forestall any violent development in the zone.
“We have plans to set up various empowerment programmes to gainfully engage the youths. The governors also plan to mainstream the youths in their governance to give them a sense of belonging.

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Minister Hails Meeting With S’East Leaders

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described as “extremely fruitful” the meeting which a presidential team had with leaders and stakeholders of the South-East.
“The meeting of the presidential delegation with South-East leaders was very useful,’’ Mohammed told journalists on Sunday in Enugu.
The delegation, led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, met for more than eight hours in Enugu with selected South-East leaders.
Mohammed said that it was quite instructive that all the groups which took part in the meeting believed in the unity and oneness of the country, pointing out that they clearly spelt out this in their presentations.
“We listened clearly and carefully to all the positions and demands and we are going back to report directly to President Buhari,’’ the minister said.
He noted that the Federal Government had been spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country, simultaneously and equitably.
“We want the South-East people to be confident that the Federal Government is spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country equitably and will never marginalise any zone in the ongoing development and infrastructure agenda.
“This is what I want to assure Nigerians living in the South-East,’’ Mohammed noted.
According to the minister, when the team gets back to Abuja it will see what can be done immediately concerning some of the positions and demands made by the South-East leaders.
The presidential delegation met with South-East governors, statesmen, elders, religious and traditional leaders, as well as market women and youth leaders.

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