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SBAS To Provide Solutions For Air Navigation Service

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The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika.

The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika has disclosed that the Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) will enhance accuracy, integrity, reliability, availability and continuity of air navigation service in continental remote and oceanic airspaces for safety of flight operations.

Sirika stated this during SBAS Flight Demonstration and Outreach workshop themed “Workshop On SBAS Implementation Aviation on Africa” hosted by Nigeria – Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) – in conjunction with international partners such as the joint programme office of the Satellite Navigation for Africa, European Union Global Action on Space, Augmented Navigation for Africa (ANGA) and others in Abuja.

Sirika, represented by the permeant secretary of the ministry, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole stated that the objective of the SBAS flight workshop is to provide a forum for collaborative engagement amongst civil aviation regulatory authorities, air navigation service providers, airspace users, equipment manufacturers, equipment providers, aircraft manufacturers, etc.

“The event is, therefore, aimed at demonstrating the use of available SBAS service for enroute navigation, terminal approach and landing to provide proof of concept on the availability, reliability, accuracy and integrity of the service for safe and efficient flight operations.

“To support the aviation industry to attain full recovery and resilience, strategic measures must be implemented to enhance safety, efficiency, capacity, cost effectiveness, interoperability, seamlessness, access and equity, as well as environmental sustainability.

“The necessity for the implementation of SBAS in the African region cannot be overemphasised, especially in view of the high cost of installing, maintaining and calibrating ground navigational facilities at less busy airports,” he said.

Speaking further, Sirika pointed that the ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan identified 3 global priorities, namely optimisation of approaches with vertical guidance, continuous climb operations (CCO) and continuous descent operations (CDO).

“It is interesting to note that implementation of these global priorities can be effectively achieved with SBAS. The implementation of these global priorities can transform airline fortunes with significant reduction in flight time, distance flown, fuel consumption, C02 emission, pilot workload etc.

“The African Union Agenda 2063 identified regional connectivity as the catalysts for the growth, expansion and development of Africa. Thus, the African Union Commission recommended the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to facilitate the attainment of the Yamoussoukro Declaration. The successful implementation of the SAATM is predicated on the implementation of the Single African Sky that would require the application of SBAS for a seamless airspace within the Africa.”

He explained that the implementation of SBAS, ABAS and GBAS are not intended to eliminate or replace ground-based navigational systems such as ILS, MLS, VOR etc, but intended to provide alternative means of navigation for operators, as well as cost effective options for air navigation service providers.

“Therefore, airlines or airspace users should not be apprehensive but receptive to the concept as a backup system or primary means of navigation in areas where ground-based navigational facilities are not available.

“In the last 7 years, Nigeria has invested significantly in the procurement of ground-based navigational facilities with over 15 new Doppler VORs, over 15 new instrument landing systems Category II and 5 new instrument landing systems Category III.

“In addition, Nigeria has invested heavily in the deployment of ground communication facilities for extended range VHF voice communication system, as well as a total radar coverage of Nigerian airspace with ground surveillance.”

In his address, the NAMA acting managing director, Capt. Pwajak Lawrence said: “An operational SBAS is a correction service for stand-alone Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observations and has been implemented in several regions around the world, including the United States, India, Europe and Japan.

“An operational SBAS provides a service for improving the accuracy, integrity and availability of stand-alone GNSS or what is traditionally known as the Global Positioning System (GPS).

“Increased accuracy is achieved using correction signals (referred to as the SBAS signals) derived from data collected from a ground reference station network. Correction data can reduce the positioning error from stand-alone GNSS signals from between five to 10 metres to decimetre accuracies. 

“An operational SBAS transmits this correction signal via satellite, as opposed to a terrestrial communications channel, enabling it to cover a wider geographical area.”

According to Lawrence, some areas of application of SBAS in aviation include enroute oceanic, enroute continental terminal phase (SIDs and STARS), approach phase (LNAV/VNAV, missed approach) cat, surface area (surface movement and gate assignment) cat etc.

“Also, SBAS can also be utilised in maritime navigation, search and rescue, support RPAS operations and support low-flying helicopter operations in coastal areas.”

He, however, went on to state some of the challenges in the Implementation of SBAS.

“Poor equipping by local operators due to old fleets or high cost of required retrofit, inadequate geo-stationary footprints or coverage over Nigeria, lack of PBN operational approvals by local or regional operators, inadequate operational training for air traffic controllers, inadequate specialist training for flight procedure designers, cartographers, surveyors, inadequate training for flight crew.

“Some benefits of SBAS are reduction in flight times, fuel consumption and CO2 and noise emissions”.

In his opening speech, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami disclosed that NIGCOMSAT is one of the Federal Government’s investments, a hybrid satellite which covers all of Africa.

NIGCOMSAT has the capacity to support the implementation of SBAS in Nigeria and across the continent.

“SBAS will improve accuracy of signals, its integrity, availability etc. This is to show that communication and digital economy today are the key enablers of all other sectors. Our health, security, defense, agriculture, education and aviation all depend on digital technology,” Pantami emphasised.

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