As harmattan hits the skies, NCAA warns pilots over poor visibility

By Our Correspondent

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has cautioned pilots in the country on the hazards associated with current harmattan dust haze prevalent in some parts of the country.

The agency has also issued advisory circular on to help prevent incidents or accidents caused by such weather related occurrences.

Spokesman for NCAA, Sam Adurogboye stated that the current circular is in line with the forecast earlier made by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) which indicated the occurrence of moderate to severe outbreaks of dust during the period of November 2016 – March 2017 in the country, predicting that it will on many occasions reduce Horizontal visibility significantly.

He stated that the effect of the hamattan is comparable to that of heavy fog which may considerably reduce air – to – ground visibility.

He said similarly, aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed minima and in severe conditions dust haze could blot out runway, markers and airfield lighting over wide areas making visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible.

He further stated that where terminal visibility falls below the prescribed weather minima, flights are bound to be delayed, diverted or cancelled.

Pilots are therefore directed to observe that adequate departure, en – route and destination weather information and briefings are obtained from NIMET prior to flight operations, exercise maximum restraint when adverse weather is observed or forecast by NIMET and ensure that flight operations are scheduled with adequate input from NIMET to minimize delay or cancellation of flight operations.

While pleading with the travelling public for understanding and not to be lawless should the situation arises and flight has to be delayed or cancelled, the flight crew are asked to adhere strictly to the prescribed weather minima for each of the airports, as violation would be viewed seriously.

Last week, the Nigerian Meteorology Agency (NIMET) warned airlines of harmattan haze sweeping across the country, saying that this weather condition compels airlines to delay or cancel scheduled flights whenever horizontal visibility falls below the stipulated minima.

The agency had on October 2016 had issued an advisory forecast for dust outbreaks to affect the country during the December to February dry season period.

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