Defective radar at Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere International Airport

AVIATION NEWS

News reports gathered by InformAfrica states the radar system at Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere International Airport has been defective for two weeks now; forcing air traffic controllers to provide air traffic management services without using radar.

Defective radar at Tanzania's Julius Nyerere International Airport

Julius Nyerere International Airport, is the principal airport serving Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania. The airport is named after the first Tanzanian President, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere.

The Guardian newspaper reports that as Tanzania skies and the Julius Nyerere International Airport remain unsafe, shocking revelations have emerged implicating the top management at the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority for its shoddy handling and failure to deal with the situation on time.

Reliable sources reveal that as Air traffic controllers were going on with their daily routine on the morning of August 3, the radar suddenly stopped working – which contradicts the version that the fault was discovered during routine repairs.

Our sources further reveal that the air traffic controllers immediately reported the matter to the Engineering section, upon which the engineers started doing some random trouble-shooting; and it’s during that exercise that they realized that the power supply unit had been damaged.

With the power supply unit down, the engineers decided to shut it down altogether to avoid the possibility of causing more problems.

And, when the news reached the Director General, Fadhili Manongi, he immediately ordered the engineers to switch it on again — so that journalists and politicians should not know what was going on at the JNIA — about the damaged radar – as the management worked out plans to repair the radar silently without acknowledging it publicly. While that was taking place, the sources say the news had reached one of the top officials in the Ministry of Communication and Transport — who ordered it shut down again.

The TCAA management then panicked, and held a series of meetings to discuss how they could deal with the worsening situation before it goes public. Instead of resolving the issue, a ‘witch hunt’ developed – during some top officials accused each other for not dealing with the situation on time – even as reports of the missing spare parts had been lying on their tables since 2010.

Our sources intimate that usually the radar is purchased with extra spare parts; and that the first power supply unit failed some years back – but it was silently replaced without the knowledge of anybody.

The equipment which has just been damaged was the second –and the only — spare part in stock. It is further revealed that the radar has been running with single units for many years,, without stand-by spare parts.

The sources said when the radar collapsed on Aug.3, this year, the management decided to communicate with BAE in London through emails, and in a shocking move, they were told that BAE no longer existed. News shocked the management, and in the course of discussions, the sources say management learnt that the BAE was ‘angry’ over traded accusations with the government of Tanzania during which the London company was implicated in corruption scandals – which is why BAE decided to ignore pleas for help from the TCAA.

So the TCAA started looking for a middle-man in London who would pretend to be purchasing the power supply unit for his company and take it to Tanzania instead.

The sources refuted any possibility of taking the damaged power supply unit to South Africa for repairs; rather, the management had instead directed engineers at the Airport to go around Dar es Salaam city in vain efforts to source ‘equivalent’ spare parts that could serve the ‘purpose’ of the damaged unit – so that it could “be fixed while waiting for the middle-man deal in London to find the ‘real’ one..

Our sources further reveal that neither middleman nor engineers had brought any feedback on the progress made in their assignments — until yesterday.

The sources say that a ‘Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)’ which is usually issued to pilots in case of such emergencies indicates that there would be no radar until October this year, which again contradicts made by the director general on Friday, who told the media that the radar would be fixed within two weeks.

The sources said that almost all important spare parts were either running as single units (without spare parts) or were dilapidated. These include ‘very omen directional range (VOR); distance measurement equipment (DME) and Grid Path (GP). The VOR, for instance, enables the pilot to accurately, and without ambiguity, navigate from Point A to Point B, whereas the distance measuring equipment (DME) is a transponder-based radio navigation technology that measures slant range distance by timing the propagation of very high frequency (VHF) or ultra high frequency (UHF) radio signals.

They said these single running units do not have spare parts, so in case they collapse — like the power supply unit — the radar would experience the same problem as now, they added.

In the meantime, TCAA management has expressed ‘shock’ at the immediate media coverage — because they “did not expect the issue to go public,” the sources reveal.

However, the director general is reported to have accused “some officials of sabotaging” him — without naming anyone, but arguing: He queries: “How else would anyone know that efforts to replace the spare part have never been worked on since 2010?”.

Given its sensitivity – and since a radar must 24 hours — the international civil Aviation organization (ICAO) recommends that all systems must be purchased with standby spare parts.

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Source: IPPMedia

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