January 21, 2011

Poor visibility delays flights operations at MMA2

By Daniel Eteghe
All the morning flights operations were yesterday delayed at the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos as a result of the poor visibility caused by harmattan hazard.

Vanguard was able monitor the situation and gathered that most of the airlines whose flight schedules were billed to depart the airport between 7 am and 7.45am could not operate because of the weather visibility problem.

Airlines whose operations were distrupted in the early hours of the day includes, Arik Air, DANA Air, Air Nigeria and Aero Constractors among others.

When contacted, some of the airlines staffs who pleaded anonymity attributed the delay to the poor visibility.

Commenting on the situation, General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr Supo Atobatele, said that the Terminal Radar installed by the agency recently had made it possible for aircraft pilots not to take risk during bad weather.

According to him, the radar would automatically inform pilots of danger  during bad weather which could subsequently lead to flight delays.

“The advantage of this terminal radar is that pilots will no longer have to hover for hours in the air because of poor visibility. This radar also reduces pain and stress that pilots faces in the cockpit during poor visibility,’’ Atobatele said.

The spokesman of NAMA noted that the era when aircraft pilots take off and have to make air return due to bad weather was gone.

In his reaction, Mr Isaac Balami, the President of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) attributed the inability of pilots to operate during poor visibility as a result of lack of category 3 Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the nation’s airports.

He explained that if the airports were installed with ILS category 3, that it would be possible for aircraft to take off and land irrespective of the weather condition.

Meanwhile, one of the passengers, Mr. Chinedu Okafor who was on his way to Abuja said that the delay of the morning flights had made him to miss his appointment adding that they (passengers) were promised that as soon as the weather was better flight operations would commence.