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NCAA cautions pilots on reduction of horizontal visibility as harmattan dust haze sets in

NIGERIAN Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday  issued advisory circular to advice pilots about the hazards associated with current  harmattan dust haze prevalent in some part of the country this is in its resolve to ensure safe flight operations in the airspace.

The circular, which has gone out to the industry, also offers guidance to help prevent incidents or accidents caused by such weather related occurrences.

With the issuance of this circular by the Authority, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) Advisory Circular AC: NCAA – AEROMET 21 dated 1st April 2016 is accordingly cancelled.

The current circular is in line with the forecast earlier made by NIMET which has indicated the occurrence of moderate to severe outbreaks of dust during the period of November 2016 – March 2017 in the country, predicting that it will on many occasions reduce Horizontal visibility significantly.

It is pertinent to note that the effect of the harmattan is comparable to that of heavy fog which may considerably reduce air – to – ground visibility.

Similarly, aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed minima and in severe conditions dust haze could blot out runway,     markers and airfield lighting 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, the circular further indicated.

Pilots are therefore directed to observe the following forthwith:

  • Ensure that adequate departure, en – route and destination weather information and briefings are obtained from NIMET prior to flight operations;
  • Exercise maximum restraint when adverse weather is observed or forecast by NIMET and
  • Ensure that flight operations are scheduled with adequate input from NIMET to minimize delay or cancellation of flight operations.

While pleading with the travelling public for understanding and not to be lawless should the situation arises and flight has to be delayed or cancelled, the flight crew are asked to adhere strictly to the prescribed weather minima for each of the airports, as violation would be viewed seriously.

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