The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has advised pilots and airline operators to exercise caution over the hazardous weather condition in dry season, just as the Harmattan haze has forced cancellation and delay of flights since December 20.
The advisory was contained in a circular with reference no AC: NCAA-AEROMET – 34, initiated by the Directorate of Aerodrome and Airspace Standards (DAAS) and addressed to all pilots and airline Operators and signed by the Director General, Capt. Musa Nuhu.
The advisory circular was sequel to the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), which reported that cessation of rainfall and weather associated with dry season in Nigeria from late December 2022 to March/April 2023.
The Authority said the circular was intended to alert pilots about the nature of weather associated with 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.
“The NCAA identified the effects of the hazardous weather on flight operations, which include 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,” the regulatory body said.
It also stated that in view of the above, all pilots, operators and air traffic controllers were obliged to abide by the safety requirements and were expected to carry out the following measures: closure of the airspace by Air Traffic Controllers when any of these conditions in are observed or forecast by NIMET; strict adherence to published aerodrome weather minima by Flight Crews/Operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC); and pilots/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 an adverse weather is observed.
In addition, operators were expected to ensure that all necessary measures are put in place to cushion the effects of delay or cancellations on their passengers.
“While the Authority urges all passengers to exercise patience and understanding during this period as their safety is of utmost importance, stakeholders should ensure strict compliance to this advisory circular as violations would be viewed seriously,” NCAA emphasised.