The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has advised pilots and airline operators to be cautious of hazardous weather due to the onset of the dry season.
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) in its latest release alerted the public on the possibility of a decline in visibility as a result of observed dust haze propagated into the country from the source region.
The release by NiMet reads: “Winds over 10m and 925hPha are favourable for Dust-Haze propagations into the Northern parts of the country.
“Stations in the source region, Niger (Goure, Zinder, Maine-Soroa, Diffa, N-Guigmi and 61091) reporting horizontal visibility between 800m and 6000m. The sources from Chad are expected to report poor horizontal visibility in the next 24 hours, based on available models.”
It further explained that due to strong winds, the dust in suspension is expected to propagate to some states in the northern part of the country, which will further reduce horizontal visibility, especially over Katsina, Kano, Nguru, Jigawa, Potiskum, and Maiduguri in the next 24hours.
NiMet while advising members of the public to take necessary precautions due to dust particles presently in suspension over the atmosphere, urged individuals with respiratory ailments to protect themselves as the current weather condition is not good for their health.
Quoting the release by NiMet, the Director General of Civil Aviation, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu stated that flights are bound to be delayed, diverted, or cancelled where terminal visibility falls below the prescribed aerodrome operating minima.
He stated: “This information is intended to alert pilots about the nature of weather associated with the dry season in Nigeria ranging from light/moderate to severe dust haze and sometimes early morning fog which can sometimes reduce the horizontal visibility to below the aerodrome operating minima.
“Therefore, members of the general public are to take necessary precautions during this time in the planning of their trips so as not to encounter unnecessary flight delays”.
Highlighting the impacts of the hazardous weather on flight operations, Captain Nuhu stated: “Air-to-ground visibility reduction due to haze dust or fog; Aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed operating minima and in severe conditions, dust haze can blot out runways, markers and airfield lightings over wide areas making visuals navigation extremely difficult or impossible; and flights are bound to be delayed, diverted or cancelled where terminal visibility falls below the prescribed aerodrome operating minima.”
Following the likely impacts, the DG urged all pilots, operators, and Air Traffic Controllers to abide by some safety requirements.
He said whenever hazardous weather conditions are noticed, Air Traffic Controllers should close the airspace and strictly adhere to published aerodrome weather minima by flight crews/operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC).
He also added: “Pilot and flight crew members shall obtain adequate departure, en-route, and destination weather information and briefing from NiMet Aerodrome Meteorological offices and stations prior to flight operations and exercise maximum restraint whenever adverse weather is observed”.
He also tasked operators to ensure that all necessary measures are put in place to cushion the effects of delays or cancellations on their passengers.
The authority, while urging all passengers to exercise patience and understanding during this period as their safety is of utmost importance, advised airline operators and stakeholders to avail themselves of weather reports for effective planning in their operations as violations would be viewed seriously.