FG Intensifies Effort To Integrate Drone Operations Into Nigeria’s Airspace
…To Establish Remotely Piloted Aircraft Safety Team
Minister for State Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has stated that the Federal Government was working hard to integrate Remotely Piloted Aircraft operations into Nigeria’s airspace as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
He stated that the best way to integrate was to partner with a wide range of stakeholders, government, aviation regulators and manufacturers.
This is just as he disclosed that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) would establish a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Safety Team that will include a wide variety of stakeholders in the aviation industry and that it is similar to the highly successful NCAA Safety Surveillance Team.
Sirika, who said this while delivering a key note address at the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) symposium in Abuja today, posited that close collaboration would be essential to continued progress on RPAS and that supporting these innovations while maintaining safety is a top priorities in the aviation sector.
He stated that symposium was organized in conjunction with representatives from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and that those attending the conference are aviation and technology industries around the world, law enforcement agencies, academia, Nigerian stakeholders, the Federal Ministry of transportation and aviation agencies around Africa.
According to Sirika, “You are not just here to listen, each of you have such an important role to play, in the coming days, you will hear some of the pressing challenges facing the Remotely Piloted Aircraft industry here in Africa and around the world, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s (NCAA) integration efforts. Nigeria the most complex and busiest airspace in West and Central Africa and it is NCAA’s responsibility to ensure its safety for public use. We need to incorporate Remotely Piloted Aircraft and their users into our culture of safety and responsibility. But we need to do it in a way that doesn’t stifle the enthusiasm for this growing industry. The best way to accomplish this is to partner with a wide range of stakeholders, government, aviation regulators and manufacturers.”
The Minister said that while valuable inputs on regulations are being received from stakeholders and building consensus through public sensitisation, the government is making substantial progress in integrating RPAS into Nigerian airspace structure.
On the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Safety Team, he stated that the group would analyse safety data developed, to identify emerging threats that RPAS may pose to aircraft, people and property.
He also said that the team will also develop mitigation strategies to address these threats and prevent future accidents.
“The creation of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Safety Team reflects the importance of this issue to the Government, and the value of collaboration with stakeholders. The Team will help to develop recommendations that will assist the government to create RPAS registration system in the shortest possible time. While the registration will help connect RPAS with its operator in cases where people are not complying with rules and guidelines. It also gives us a valuable opportunity to educate users on how to operate their Remotely Piloted Aircraft safely,” Sirika said.
He stated that in addition to educating hobbyists, NCAA’s regulations committee was putting a regulatory framework in place to address the commercial use of RPAS as well, adding that RPAS industry was moving at the speed of the software industry around the world.
The growth of the RPAS industry, he said is one of the most exciting developments in transportation today, stressing that industry forecast expect that total drone sales will reach new heights in 2017/2018, with a billion dollars in revenues and about 4 million units sold.
This potential, the Minister said has attracted some of the best minds in technology and manufacturing and that the devices they are creating have practically limitless uses.
“Drones are transforming industries like agriculture, film making, real estate and creating countless new jobs and economic opportunities. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are tackling jobs that can be dangerous for people or other aircraft to do such as it is in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria,” Sirika said.