Friday, December 16, 2011

Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority Warns Pilots on Safety

Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, has warned pilots in Nigeria to be careful at this period when the airspace is threatened by harmattan haze. He said this was necessary as it tended to blur visibility and sometimes gives rise to low level wind shear, that may hamper air safety.

Demuren gave the warning yesterday in a statement made available to THISDAY and urged the pilots to adhere strictly to approved weather minima during this period in the interest of safe flight operations in and out of Nigeria airspace especially at this yuletide, when air traffic is high in domestic operations.

The regulatory body said the issuance of the circular was predicated on the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) forecast that the prevailing weather condition was likely to herald long and severe harmattan in the months ahead.

“This poses a great threat to aviation particularly in areas of challenging terrains because of reduced atmospheric visibility in harmattan dust haze. The advisory circular is, therefore, intended to alert pilots to the hazards associated with harmattan,” he said.

Demuren explained that the harmattan is a dry and dusty wind that blows south from Sahara across the country between the end of November and March of next year.

“On its passage over the desert it picks up large amounts of fine dust particles (0.5 to 10 micrometers) which are transported hundreds of kilometers over the South. The effect caused by the dust and sand stirred by the wind is known as harmattan dust haze. It is a phenomenon which is associated with the end of the rainy season.

He said that the effect of the harmattan is comparable to that of heavy fog, which tends to reduce air-to-ground visibility considerably, adding that aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed minima and in severe conditions, dust haze could blot out runways, markers and airfield lightings over wide areas making visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible.

“Where terminal visibility falls below the prescribed weather minima, flights are bound to be delayed, diverted or cancelled. Consequently, Pilots shall exercise maximum restraint when strong surface wind, fog or harmattan haze is observed or forecast.”

The Director-General also directed that all pilots should obtain adequate departure, en-route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET prior to flight operations at all the aerodromes.

“We however plead for the understanding of the travelling public as there may be some levels of delays or cancellations arising on account of unfavorable weather conditions. This is to reassure the travelling public that NCAA is top of the situation and that we are working to ensure that safety is not compromised while wishing our customers pleasant yuletide season”.

No comments:

Post a Comment