Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey
Ghana’s airspace which authorities have consistently maintained is safest is said to be reeling under severe difficulties following what air traffic controllers say are unprecedented challenges facing the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority.
Whereas authorities of the GCAA have always debunked suggestions that Ghana’s airspace was in danger, it has now emerged that all was not well.
In a press statement by air traffic controllers who said they have deferred an intended industrial action about the situation to end of next month, the GCAA is said to be faced with technical confusion which is said to be posing serious safety hazards to the aviation industry.
But in an interview with The Al-Hajj, the Director General of GCAA, Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey, whiles admitting air traffic controllers have raised concerns about the safety of the airspace, noted that their concerns are being taken seriously.
Failing to provide details of a committee formed to investigate the matter, Air Commodore Mamphey stated “a committee has been formed made up of Board Members of Civil Aviation Authority to investigate concerns raised by the air traffic controllers.”
He said the committee begun its work yesterday and “as soon as they are done with their work, we will let you know. I can’t tell the number of people constituting the committee and the timeline for their work, what I can tell you is that we take the concerns raise seriously.”
As to whether the aviation industry was indeed faced with concerns raised by the traffic controllers, the Director General stated “let us wait for the committee to come up with their report then we can discuss that.”
Last year, February 7, The Al-Hajj reported of how dangerous it was using Ghana’s airspace, but that claim which was made by pilots flying local airlines was vehemently denied by the Director General of the GCAA.
The paper received reports from pilots who fly local airlines to the effect that the aviation industry was bogged down by a range of ills from obsolete communication equipment, ‘epileptic’ or non-functional radar, lack of personnel, prolonged delay in responding to distress calls, poor coordination of effort coupled with repeated conflicts in the information disseminated to the pilots.
But, Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey, ably assisted by a consultant of the authority, Dr Steve Nyakotey Kwao, the Director of Air traffic Services, Albert Taylor and an official of the Ghana Metrological Service, Amos Narh, noted that despite some challenges facing the aviation industry, “air transportation in Ghana was still the safest mode of transportation. Our airspace is very, very safe.”
The Al-Hajj’s investigations as of the time uncovered that, with the exception of Accra, there was no weather forecasters in the Tamale, Kumasi, Takoradi and Sunyani airports, but authorities were quick to explain that “the control tower in Accra has oversight over all the other airports…we have forecast and observation; these are two different things…even with the forecast, we have dependent and independent forecast…Accra is an independent forecast so is able to handle the other airports, but for observation there are officials at all the airports to do that.”
Again, this paper uncovered that apart from the KIA, the Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale and Sunyani airports were operating without weather surveillance radars and weather reports from Metrological forecasters, that was also rebuffed by management.
The Al-Hajj gathered from pilots flying local airlines in the country that they fly to Kumasi, Sunyani, Takoradi and Tamale at their own risk without proper or no weather reports, hence putting the lives of hundreds of passengers in dangers.
What they said accounted for the inability of officials at the various Metrological offices aside Accra to provide pilots with weather reports was the lack of basic equipment like thermometers, measuring cylinders, barometers, personnel, vehicles for running errands and other necessary tools.
As a result of the absence of such basic equipment, The Al-Hajj was informed that, officers at the various Metrological offices outside the capital city were unable to transmit weather data to Accra; a report connoisseurs of the aviation industry said was vital, especially to track whether the airspace will be conducive for a pilot to fly to that particular part of the country.
The pilots revealed that the satellite pitcher at the briefing room in Accra which provides pilots with information on the weather every half an hour had broken down for several years.
More ominous, however, was the use of naked eyes by officials at the various airports to read the weather which was then communicated through a telephone call to pilots.
Due to the disturbing nature of the situation of which officialdom was said to be adamant of, various pilots who have the means to afford ipads use it to get their own weather reports, and those who don’t have such expensive gadget rely on telephone calls.
But when asked if things have been fixed following our interview last year, Air Commodore Mamphey sticks to his position, saying “let the committee conclude it work first then we can talk about some of these things.”
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