NAMA urges ICAO on personnel licensing

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

This, the agency said, would place the responsibility to ensure safety on the holder because the licence is the confirmation of competence in a specific safety 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, NAMA Managing Director Capt. Fola Akinkuotu said  the demand for licensing of ATSEPs had been a recurring issue at the ICAO General Assembly. This is due to efforts of IFATSEA to give  it a “loud voice,” he said, adding that stakeholders have the duty to ensure that this message resonates globally given the safety-critical role of ATSEPs in the sector.

Akinkuotu said as an agency with the largest concentration of ATSEPs in the country, 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 licence, so that we can hold people responsible for their actions. A licence can be withdrawn makes the holder extremely responsible and careful in taking safety-critical decisions,” he said.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   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.

He stressed that the programme had gone a long way in increasing the competency of ATSEPS. 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.”

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, 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, 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.

He urged participants to “churn out realisable and realistic strategies and modalities to enhance safety in the African airspace and the entire global aviation environment’’

In his welcome address, the National Association of Air Traffic Engineers (NAAE) President, Ishaya Dung, lamented that despite concerted efforts by members over the years, ATSEPs was 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 next month.

This year’s conference with the theme: Aviation safety and licensing of ATSEP was attended by 131 participants from nine countries – Burkina Faso, Gambia, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, Germany and Nigeria as well as representatives from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and  Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA).