Impressed by the visible changes that have brought about upgrade in Nigeria Aviation industry, Air Traffic Controllers say the Presidency should consider merit in appointing members of the body to head key parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Aviation.
President of the Association Victor Iyaru and his General Secretary Banji Olawode believe that, “owing to the vast knowledge of Air Traffic Controllers about the Aviation Industry, it is pertinent to note that they are not only qualified to be Directors General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) , but more significantly very qualified to head any parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Aviation.
The two officials who spoke on the issue said “an Air Traffic Controller in the business of aviation cannot be portrayed or treated as second class in aviation industry. They toil day and night to keep the industry safe and afloat. It is globally accepted that Air Traffic Controllers are among the best trained and adequately qualified professionals in the industry”
According to them, “the trainings air traffic controllers undergo are among the most detailed and highly standardised/regulated in the industry”.
They stated that air traffic controllers “fly up to Private Pilot Licence (PPL ) level while some even earn the Commercial Pilot licence (CPL). They are trained in Meteorology up to ATPL level, Aerodrome and Ground aids, Aeronautic search and rescue, Accident Investigation, Air law, Aeronautic communications , Procedures /Airspace design and safety management system.”
The Association officials stated that “the crop of Air Traffic Controllers in Nigeria hold prerequisite degrees in many fields of study ranging from sciences , engineering and management hence the need to ensure that a competent hand is confirmed as the Director General of NCAA.
“The Present Acting Director General of the NCAA, Dr. Joyce Nkemakolam is an outstanding air traffic controller of continuous experience in aviation industry of which at least 13 years have been spent with the NCAA where he rose to become the Director , Aerodrome and Airspace Standards (DAAS) before being appointed as the Acting DG”.
They insisted that politics should not be used in the confirmation of the DG, stating that “the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act 2006 Part 111, section 3 (a-f) was very clear on who can be the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)”.
Air Traffic control according the body, “is one of the foremost and very important professions in the aviation industry globally. It is no exaggeration to say that air traffic control is the heartbeat of the aviation industry while air traffic controller is the human link to air safety”
On the global level the officials reiterated that “it is pertinent to note the chief executive of Civil Aviation Authorities have not been restricted to pilots, aircraft and aeronautic engineers.
The current CEO of Americas FAA is Michael Huerta who holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and a Masters Degree in International Relations. The United Kingdom s CAA is headed by Andrew Haines who holds a Masters degree in Business Administration.
“Also the President of ICAO, Robert Kobeh Gonzalez holds a Bachelors degree in Communication and electronics. He is also a Professor of Aeronautical Electronics. The ICAO Secretary General /CEO, Raymond Benjamin holds separate diplomas in International studies and Political science with a Masters Degree in Public Law.”
The body therefore explained that “In what is common to theses aviation administrators and technocrats is their wealth of experiences in aviation matters. They were not appointed as CEOs because of being pilots, aeronautic engineers or aircraft engineers as would have been expected . Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association NATCA is not opposed to anyone with required qualifications and experiences becoming Dg of NCAA but are of the opinion that merit should be considered.”