West Africa Countries Collaborate for Airspace Safety

Simon Allotey. Credit: Voyage Africa

Countries in the West Africa sub-region are seeking to establish a unified communication and surveillance systems for coordinating and improving airspace safety. Simon Allotey the Director-General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), made this disclosure during an interview with Buisness24, a Ghana-based media outlet. The DG revealed that bilateral agreements are in the works. 

“We are now looking at [the] implementation of the common systems for communications and surveillance data sharing. We are also talking to the ASECNA member states—made up of Francophone countries in West Africa except [for] Guinea,” he disclosed.

The DG further added that: “we are also in talks with the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Roberts FIR—made up of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — over implementing some common communication and surveillance systems, whereby we could share surveillance data so that the aircraft we [see] in Accra will also be seen in Togo, and they know when an aircraft will be in their airspace.”

Communication and surveillance for aircraft flying in the sub-region are as of now being given by individual nations, as others are making a communication and surveillance information alliance. The Accra Flight Information Region (Accra FIR), for example, is split into Accra East and Accra West. Accra East’s control community is in Lomé, while Accra West’s control place is in Accra. Accra, be that as it may, handles the issuance of notifications (NOTAMS) to their Togo and Benin partners. 

Nigeria additionally runs its Flight Information Regions (FIRs). Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea utilize the Roberts FIR, while ASECNA part states—Francophone nations in West Africa—use a typical FIR. 

Aviation experts in these nations, with the help of their administrations, are looking to execute regular communication and surveillance frameworks to all the more likely improve coordination, information sharing and arranging, and attract them more like a future common upper airspace control focus, similar to what exists in Europe. European Union nations share a typical upper airspace control called Euro Control. 

Unified communications and surveillance framework will extraordinarily help in diminishing mishaps and episodes inside the sub-area and guarantee travellers of upgraded security when they fly. 

“This is more of coordination and cooperation, such as implementing joint systems. One system can provide control over a wide area. So, instead of Ghana acquiring its own satellite system and Nigeria, Abidjan, and Roberts FIR also acquiring their own system, states could come together and implement one system which would be shared and used by all of them.

“Technology now abounds to have one system providing control over a larger area. In the early days we had a ground-based system, so everything was localised, but now with satellite-based equipment, you can sit in Accra and see what is happening in Niamey,” Mr. Allotey noted.


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