By Lawani Mikairu

LAGOS—THE Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ,NCAA, weekend issued a weather alert to pilots and all airline operators indicating hazards associated with harmattan dust haze in flight operations at this period of the year. This alert is important as harmattan is known to pose an obvious threat to aircraft particularly in areas of challenging terrains due to low visibility.

According to the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency,NIMET, the prevailing weather condition is likely to herald a long and severe dust haze in the months ahead.

Speaking about the weather alert, Mr Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, said: “The Advisory circular AC: NCAA- AEROMET-24 is intended to alert pilots of the hazards associated with dust haze which is a dry and dusty wind that blows southwards from the Sahara across Nigeria during the months of November to March.

“The effect of the dust and sand stirred by the wind is known as Harmattan Dust Haze. Therefore, pilots should note that air-to-ground visibility may be considerably reduced due to the dust haze.

“In addition, aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed minimal and in severe conditions, dust haze can blot out runways, the markers and airfield lightings over wide areas. This makes visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible.”

Adurogboye added that “Resultantly, where visibility falls below the prescribed weather minimal, flight operations are expected to be delayed, diverted or out-rightly cancelled. Hence, all pilots are obliged to exercise maximum restraint especially when severe weather condition is observed or reported by NIMET.

“Pilots should obtain adequate departure, en route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET prior to flight operations at all the airports. The Flight Crews/ Operators and Air Traffic Controllers, ATC, should ensure adherence to aerodrome operating minimal,” the NCAA Spokesman said.

“Operators are therefore advised to ensure necessary measures are put in place to manage the effects of flight delays or cancellations on their passengers. All stakeholders are required to ensure strict compliance with this circular,” the NCAA Spokesman said.

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