The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Flight Tracking Command Center opened in Lagos in mid-April, coincidentally shortly after the IOC presentation touting African airspace modernization. At the request of the NCAA, Calgary, Canada-based AeroMechanical Services developed a satellite-based tracking system for Nigerian airline operations using a proprietary on-aircraft data streaming box. Airborne data is mixed on the ground with weather-radar information and displayed at the center using Flight Explorer software. The new center is not a replacement for ATC in that country, but rather acts as a supplement.Called AFIRS, for automated flight information reporting system, AeroMechanical Services’ information stream can also provide command center monitors with voice and text messaging, engine/airframe data tracking to pinpoint approaching problems, credit card validation and on-demand streaming of “black box” data.
The high number of hull losses over the past decade in Nigeria is thought to have been a significant motivator for building the new flight-following system. African aviation sources say hull losses have been cut by 42 percent since 2001, a trend NCAA would like to continue. The NCAA Command Center currently tracks only aircraft of Nigerian registry.