By John Ikani
Henceforth there won’t be ‘must-go mission’ in Nigerian Air Force military operations until the indices that will minimize avoidable risks are met, The Nation exclusively gathered.
The new operational guideline may not be unconnected to new measures emplaced by NAF to guarantee safety of its air operations, after the incident of multiple plane crashes in the last five months.
Pilots and other personnel in the chain of air operations have also been lectured to consider if the urgency and value of the mission is worth the risk before embarking on future operations.
In the last five months, the NAF recorded three major Air crashes that resulted in the death of 20 military Officers including the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru.
However, conscious of the fact that adverse weather conditions and obsolete infrastructure contributed significantly to the recent plane crashes involving the Nigerian Air Force aircraft, the Service has commenced implementation of both short and long term measures to ensure safer conduct of its air operations.
Also to boost the capacity of the pilots and other personnel, NAF recently held a seminar to enhance the chances of conducting safe flights under adverse weather conditions.
The seminar with the theme; ‘Managing Adverse Weather Conditions for Safer Air Operations in the NAF’, is part of measures to avert further air mishaps.
To further guarantee safe air Operation, the Service under Air Marshal Amao has approved among other measures, the enlistment of six Met officers, 10 ATCOs and five fire Safety officers annually through RC/DSSC/BC for the next three years, reactivation of Met Observatory at 407 ACTG Airfield and procurement of AWOS for 101 ADG and 407 ACTG airfields.
Others were, reactivation of 101 ADG and 407 ACTG control towers, training of 20 ATS personnel as Flight Dispatchers, direction of Operational Units to set up Standard Base Operation offices, induction of ATCOs/ATCAs in Crew Resource Management training and developmental of a Robust Air Defence Capability Plan for the NAF, which includes Military TRACON.
The Air Officer Commanding, Mobility Command, Air Vice Marshal Aliyu Bello, noted that the idea of the seminar was conceived after the unfortunate fatal accident of May 21, which claimed the lives “of our very senior colleagues and threw the entire nation into mourning.”
According to him, “considering the potential role that adverse weather may have played in the accident, it became necessary for us, in Mobility Command, to create a forum, such as this, where we can draw from the knowledge and experiences of our senior pilots, some of whom are retired, to educate our young and upcoming pilots on the practical means of managing prevailing adverse weather conditions in furtherance of safe flight operations in the NAF.
“The fact that we are having this Seminar today, is indicative of our collective resolve to embrace continuous training to promote a robust safety culture as a veritable tool for preserving NAF’s valued assets and the lives of our personnel. It is through such preservation that we can also ‘Foster a Disciplined Workforce Essential for Combat Readiness’ as one of the drivers to achieving the Chief of the Air Staff’s Vision for the NAF”.
He added that the Mobility Command intends to constantly update its personnel towards upholding best global practices in the safe and professional conduct of airlift operations and other ground duties.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, while declaring open the 2021 Mobility Command Safety Seminar held in Abuja, said it is specifically focused on the enhancement of safety in the conduct of air operations.
Represented by the Managing Director, Nigerian Air Force Investment Limited (NAFIL) Air Vice Marshal Emmanual Wonah, Amao noted that the timing could not have been more appropriate, “considering recent unfortunate occurrences that have impugned the flight safety records of the NAF”.
He added that, “I am personally enthused by the thematic focus of the Seminar, which is: ‘Managing Adverse Weather Conditions for Safer Air Operations in the NAF’. This is because adverse weather is a natural phenomenon that we cannot wish away or control.
“In extreme cases, it poses very grave threats and danger to flight operations. All we can do as aviators, is to manage these manifestations of mother nature for the safe and effective conduct of our flight operations. Therefore, a thorough knowledge of weather patterns and trends, as well as the characteristic features of prevailing weather conditions on our flight routes can facilitate a pilot’s quick and accurate decision making for mission accomplishment”.
He noted further that, “seminars of this nature afford us opportunities to take stock and appraise our safety procedures for enhanced operational efficiency. It is also gratifying to note that the holding of this Seminar is in line with my Vision of enhancing and sustaining critical airpower capabilities required for joint force employment in pursuit of national security imperatives and is particularly geared towards updating the knowledge base of personnel towards producing thoroughly skilled and professional airmen in fulfilment of one of the key drivers of my Vision which focuses on the ‘pursuit of purposeful training and human capacity development”.
The CAS implored participants, as safety managers, to imbibe the salient points that would emanate from this Seminar to improve safety consciousness in their respective units.
“I expect the discussions at this Seminar to be open, frank and incisive. We must use the medium to bring all safety concerns to the fore and professionally deliberate on them in order to proffer realistic and lasting solutions to our flight safety issues. The resolutions at this Seminar are therefore expected to be articulated towards making the NAF a safer, more effective and efficient instrument of National Power,” he stated.