The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, has issued a weather alert to all airline operators indicating hazards associated with Harmattan dust haze in flight operations at this period of the year.
A statement by the NCAA General Manager, Public Relations, Sam Adurogboye, on Sunday said the alert was important as Harmattan was a threat to aircraft particularly in areas of challenging terrains due to low visibility.
Mr. Adurogboye said according to the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, the prevailing weather condition is likely to herald a long and severe dust haze in the months ahead.
He 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 might fall below the prescribed minima and in severe conditions dust haze can blot out runways, the markers and airfield lightings over wide areas.”
According to him, this makes visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible.
“Resultantly, where visibility falls below the prescribed weather minima, flight operations are expected to be delayed, diverted or outrightly cancelled.
“Hence, all pilots are obliged to exercise maximum restraint especially when severe weather condition is observed or reported by NIMET,” he said.
The NCAA spokesperson advised pilots to obtain adequate departure, en route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET prior to flight operations at all the airports.
He also urged Flight Crews/ Operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) to ensure adherence to aerodrome operating minima.
“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,” Mr. Adurogboye said.