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NCAA instructs ATCs to close airspace; cautions pilots, airlines over thunderstorm

SEQUEL to predictions of hazardous weather by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has instructed Air Traffic controllers to temporarily close the airspace and for pilots and airline operators to exercise caution during flight operations during such weather conditions.

This warning was contained in an Advisory Circular (AC) with reference no AC: NCAA-AEROMET – 27 addressed to all Pilots and Airline Operators and signed by the Director General, Capt. Muhtar Usman.

The AC is sequel to the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) released for the year 2019 by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).

NIMET has predicted March/April and May/June 2019 as the commencement of rainy season in the Southern and Northern parts of Nigeria, which is usually accompanied with turbulence. This is in addition to microburst, low-level wind share and sometimes events that could affect the safety of flight operations.

With this information, it is expected that Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) may temporarily close the airspace when there are adverse weather conditions.

Consequently, “Flight Crews/Operators and ATCs shall ensure strict adherence to aerodrome operating minima in line with standard and recommend practices.”

In addition, “All pilots are therefore obliged to exercise maximum restraint whenever severe weather condition is observed or forecast by NIMET.”

For the purpose of safe flight operations, Pilots/Flight Crew Members should obtain adequate departure, en route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET Aerodrome Meteorological Offices situated in all the airports prior to flight operations.

Operators are therefore required to play a key role in ensuring adequate measures are put in place to lessen the effects of the attendant flight delays and cancellations on their passengers as occasioned by this severe weather conditions in accordance with Part 19 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations 2015.

While the Authority urges all passengers to exercise patience and understanding during this period as their safety is of utmost importance, stakeholders should ensure strict compliance to safety regulations as violations would be viewed seriously.

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