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Festus Keyamo, Aviation and Aerospace Development Minister

NCAA clarifies weather-induced flights over prohibited Aso Rock airspace

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has provided an explanation regarding two recent incidents where aircraft flew over Aso Rock, a designated “Prohibited Flight Zone” known as DNP4. According to NCAA, the violations occurred due to adverse weather conditions, which forced the aircraft to stray into restricted airspace.

Collaborating with the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the NCAA conducted an investigation that confirmed the controlled flights inadvertently entered the restricted zone because of the weather conditions.

Acting Director General of NCAA, Captain Chris Najomo, assured Nigerians of the safety and security of the nation’s airspace. “There is no reason to doubt the full coverage of Nigeria’s airspace by Radar, as the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) is in control,” Najomo stated.

He addressed concerns suggesting that Nigeria’s airspace is insecure due to a lack of radar coverage, clarifying that NAMA had complete radar footages and details of the aircraft involved in the violations. “This was only made possible due to functional Primary and Secondary Surveillance Radars in Abuja. Similar installations are in Lagos, Kano, and Port-Harcourt,” he added.

Najomo explained that the term “unknown aircraft,” used in an All Operators Letter (AOL DGCA/021/24), is a standard security terminology reported to NCAA. However, investigations revealed that NAMA had full details of the aircraft identities.

He further detailed the functionalities of the radar systems in place: the Primary Surveillance Radar identifies aircraft as moving targets without specific identities, while the Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR) allows for identification of aircraft equipped with ATC Mode ‘S’ transponders. This system is a crucial component of the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON).

Adhering to international standards, NCAA requires all aircraft flying in controlled airspace to have serviceable ATC transponders, as documented in Part 7 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations. Turning off this system while flying in controlled airspace constitutes a violation and a security breach, subject to NCAA’s enforcement procedures and possible criminal referral.

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