By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja-Following the urgent need to keep the airspace safe and efficient, stakeholders in the aviation sector gathered in Abuja on Monday to chart a course on the development and regulation of the use of unmanned Aircraft in Nigeria and the world at large.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika while speaking to journalists at the International Civil Aviation Organisation(ICAO) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) Symposium for African and Indian Ocean (AFI) in Abuja, noted that Nigeria since assuming the position of leaders of the industry, stands to benefit first from any device or guidelines that will change the future of aviation positively.
Sirika noted that the growth of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft industry is one of the most exciting developments in transportation today, adding 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.
He also said that the Federal Ministry of Transportation(Aviation Sector) is working hard to maintain safety and as well integrate Remotely Piloted Aircraft operations into Nigeria’s airspace as quickly and as efficiently as possible through close collaboration.
According to him; “The Government through Civil Aviation Authority is establishing a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Safety Team that will include a wide variety of stakeholders in the aviation industry. This group will analyze safety data developed, to identify emerging threats that RPAS may pose to aircraft, people, and property. They will also develop mitigation strategies to address these threats and prevent future accidents”.
He added that regulations have been developed regarding the use of unmanned aircrafts in Nigeria, “We cannot afford to allow drones to continue to roam about our airspace uncontrolled and unregulated. It will for sure be regulated but we will not kill the enthusiasm of hobbyist and other users of drones. We will only regulate to ensure that all of us remain safe and secure” he said.
Earlier, the President of the council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Dr.Olumuyiwa Aliu stressed that unmanned aviation is a challenging new frontier, but one which also holds tremendous promise, adding that the flipside of the dynamic growth in opportunity is the challenge of balancing safety and security with efficiency and sustainability.
He stressed that the onus of succeeding in this challenges obviously falls on the shoulders of regulators, who must work to create and establish a well-structured and appropriate regulatory framework, noting that ICAO’s mission to ensure global harmonization of the various solutions set out is now more important than ever.
He said,”It is further worth noting that this new drone activity is just part of ICAO’s work. We also are well on the way to building the regulatory framework that will facilitate international operations conducted in accordance with instrument flight rules. This work programme, when complete, will provide the basis for a certificated remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) to operate in sequence with manned aircraft, employing the same procedures and separation standards”.
Meanwhile, these unmanned aircrafts are designed, developed and used for hundreds of deeply diverse applications such as recreational videotaping, humanitarian support, wildlife monitoring and cargo delivery.
The Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems(RPAS) symposium with the theme “Remotely piloted aviation in Africa: sharing experiences and challenges”, had in attendance International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as well as aviation and technology industries around the world, law enforcement agencies, academia, Nigerian Stakeholders, the Federal Ministry of transportation and aviation agencies around Africa.