Lagos: The Island City

By By David Esler david.esler@comcast.net
Source: Business & Commercial Aviation

Fuel stops do not require visas, but crew and passengers will be confined to the airport for the duration of the refueling. “For tech stops, a sponsor is not necessary,” Linton added, “but for visits, especially those intended for transacting business, you will need a local contact, or sponsor, in order to obtain a landing permit.” A letter on the sponsoring business's stationary, signed by the contact, will suffice.

Permits are required at least 48 hr. in advance for both landings and overflights. “You will have to provide normal aircraft documents, including a noise certificate,” Linton said. “They also ask to see a copy of the last three pages of your maintenance log.” Note that in some cases, landing permits may be required by Nigerian Civil Aviation for domestic flights within the country by visiting operators; have your handling service check this out and make arrangements for the permit in advance.

In Nigeria, visiting aircraft are required to arrive and depart the country only at POEs in order to clear customs both ways. In addition to Lagos, these include Abuja, Calabar, Kano, Maiduguri and Port Harcourt. (Thus, if your business trip takes you, for example, from Lagos to Kano, you can depart from the latter — but determine first whether you will need a landing permit for Kano.)

Note for filing that the new, revised ICAO standard flight plan is now in effect throughout much of Africa. ATC services in Nigeria are provided by the government using English-speaking controllers; however, it is advised that flight crews always use standard ICAO phraseology. Reporting on the “International Feedback” page of the NBAA website, Gulfstream IV captain Jeff Lane rated controller English as “normally good” but advised Lagos-bound operators to expect “a lot of wasted transmissions and 'last calling, say again'” responses from ATC.

“It can be absolute chaos on the radio,” Lane continued, “but listen up, they will call you when they need you.” He also advised cockpit crews to have their charts (or EFBs) readily available, as controllers often will simply radio “contact Lagos” but will not assign a frequency.

Welcome to Lagos

The only airport serving greater Lagos is Murtala Muhammed International (DNMM), located north of Lagos in the community of Ikeja. “It is fairly good by African standards,” Universal's Linton observed, “with no unusual procedures. There's good radar coverage, and it's being expanded to the greater Lagos area.” (Jeff Lane added a caveat, however: As controllers often won't turn on the surveillance radar, don't always expect to hear “radar contact,” and as a backup, have the local VORs tuned up on your nav radios.) Murtala Muhammed is a 24-hr. airport with no slot requirement. Peak traffic times are in the afternoon and evening.

DNMM has two parallel runways oriented 18/36, the longest 12,794 ft. long by 197 ft. wide (see “City-at-a-Glance” for details), and the airport's elevation is 135 ft. Both runways are equipped with ILS approaches. Pilots report that while the runway surfaces are in good condition, there are many patched areas among the taxiways that should be taxied around, if possible. There are two FBOs on site, and the airport is equipped with a general aviation terminal located in the domestic wing of the passenger terminal.

The FBOs, only recently opened, are operated by ExecuJet Aviation Group and Evergreen Apple Nigeria. Both are full-service facilities boasting executive lounges, office space, on-site customs, business jet maintenance, lav and water servicing, and lots of ramp space for parking. Additionally, ExecuJet offers hangaring.

Upon landing, business aircraft will be directed either to the FBOs or the general aviation terminal where passengers and crew may clear customs. According to Linton, if operators provide their handling services with copies of the relevant customs documents, local agents can then coordinate customs in advance of arrival, ensuring an expeditious clearance process.“They see a lot of business aviation aircraft and are familiar with all types,” Linton claimed. Visiting aircraft will be parked at the FBOs or general aviation terminal, if space permits, or directed to remote parking areas after disembarking passengers if the FBO or general aviation terminal ramps are congested. It is recommended that operators bring their own chocks and tow bars for their aircraft, as ramp equipment is occasionally sparse.


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