By Sade Williams
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.
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.
This is according to the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) which reported that the prevailing weather condition is likely to herald a long and severe dust haze in the months ahead.
A statement signed by Mr. Sam Adurogboye, NCAA spokesman 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 minima 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.
“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”, it said.
The Authority advised pilots to obtain adequate departure, en route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET prior to flight operations at all the airports, advising also that the Flight Crews/ Operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) should 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|”, it added.