By Yunus Yusuf
The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), has begun the implementation of Free Routing Airspace (FRA) to enhance airspace’s efficiency.
The Managing Director, NAMA, Free Routing Airspace Capt. Fola Akinkoutu, made this known in a statement issued in Lagos on Tuesday.
The FRA is a specified airspace within which users may freely plan a route between a defined entry and exit points.
Akinkoutu also assured a sensitisation forum in Lagos that the FRA would further reduce operational cost to airlines operating in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that NAMA had earlier in October, 2021, notified the global aviation community of its intention to start the implementation of the FRA concept in December 2021.
Akinkuotu said: “The journey to the implementation of the Free Routing Airspace in Nigeria started two years ago.
“This follows the decision and recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) AFI (African-Indian Ocean) Region.
“This is on the ground that member states should develop necessary strategies towards implementation of FRA in their respective states and regions.
“ICAO, in collaboration with International Air Transport Association (IATA), supported this push by developing the FRA concept of operations, therefore, conducting FRA gap analysis as well as providing guidance in the development of FRA implementation checklist.
“After several meetings, workshops and co-ordination among contiguous FIRs (Flight Information Regions), the FRA concept is surely transforming from an abstract idea to concrete reality and that has been largely the Nigerian experience as the nation successfully commenced FRA implementation on the Dec. 2, 2021.”
He noted that the technology was first conceptualised about 13 years ago in Europe, being the first region in the world to have implemented a full FRA concept beginning from 2008.
According to him, however, in the entire ICAO AFI Region, Nigeria is the second country, after Mauritius to implement this global new concept.
Akinkuotu said FRA basically accords airspace users over Kano FIR the opportunity to migrate from the conventional fixed Air Traffic Service (ATS) route network to flight plannable direct routes.
He added that this was between a published FRA significant boundary entry point to a published FRA significant boundary exit point, thereby optimizing airspace utilisation.
The managing director listed the benefits of FRA to airspace users to include: Savings in terms of distance covered per route segment; Savings in terms of time required to cover one route leg.
Akinkuotu said others were fuel savings per route leg as well as carbon emission reduction per route segment per volume of airspace.
He also enjoined airline operators in Nigeria to take advantage of new technologies being deployed by the agency as these would enhance their operational efficiency.
Akinkuotu recalled that in the last couple of years, NAMA had deployed several next generation tools like the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) Approaches, Controller-Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC).
He said others were the Instrument Landing System (ILS) Category II and III, but noted that some Nigerian airlines were not taking advantage of them.
The managing director stressed that NAMA would continue to strive to ensure that Nigeria had, not only a safe airspace, but also a profitable aviation industry.
NAN reports that the Free Routing concept is associated with ICAO Aviation System Block Upgrade-ASBU modules B1-FRTO.
The sensitisation forum attracted representatives from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), IATA, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Max Airlines, Air Peace, Emirates Airlines, United Airlines, Arik Air among others. (NAN)