The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has warned airline operators and pilots flying within the country’s airspace to exercise extreme caution in order to safely navigate through the seasonal harmattan dust haze.
The regulatory agency also advised flight crews and air traffic controllers (ATC) to ensure adherence to aerodrome operating minima as advised by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).
The warning was given in a statement by NCAA spokesman Sam Adurogboye.
He explained that the aviation agency was prompted to issue the circular after NIMET forecasted that the harmattan storm would impair visibility throughout the next few months.
Mr. Adurogboye maintained that the Advisory Circular (AC): NCAA-AEROMET-24 was intended to alert pilots of the hazards associated with the harmattan dust haze, which he described as a dry and dusty wind that blows southwards from the Sahara across Nigeria during the months of November to March.
He stressed that 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 block out runways, the markers and airfield lighting 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 out-rightly cancelled. Hence, all pilots are obliged to exercise maximum restraint, especially when severe weather conditions are observed or reported by NIMET,” he said.
Mr. Adurogboye charged pilots to obtain adequate departure, en route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET prior to flight operations at all the airports while also calling on flight crews and air traffic controllers to ensure adherence to aerodrome operating minima.
He also advised operators to ensure necessary measures were put in place to manage the effects of flight delays or cancellations on their passengers, adding that all stakeholders were required to ensure strict compliance with the circular for safety during the period.
The NCAA spokesman further appealed to the traveling public to exercise some restraint whenever their boarding is delayed or cancelled by the airlines due to unfavorable weather conditions.