FOLLOWING the severe weather phenomenon over Nigerian airports since the onset of rainy season in the country, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has directed that Air Traffic controllers (ATC) may have temporarily close airspace when hazardous weather conditions are observed or forecast.
The NCAA in weather Advisory Circular (AC) issued to the industry for strict compliance indicated that when occurrence of thunderstorm, squall lines, microburst or low level wind-shear are observed or forecast by NIMET ATC s may close the airspace temporarily.
In the circular signed by NCAA Director General/Chief Executive Officer, Capt. Musa Nuhu, the purpose of the AC is to bring forth the evolving weather information which could adversely affect safe and efficient flight operations post Covid-19 pandemic.
So far statistics from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has indicated that most of the airports have recorded quite number of thunderstorms between March and July 2020.
In the month of July 2020, NIMET data indicate the following number of thunderstorm occurrence: Abuja (23), Ikeja (8), Kano (24), Port Harcourt (11), Owerri (17) and Benin (11). In the same month, gustiness range between 22Kt and 42Kt at the listed airports.
Severe thunderstorms and many other hazardous weather phenomena such as severe turbulence, microburst, low level wind shear and hail events that could affect the safety of flight operations are possible during rainy season; therefore, all stakeholders are expected to perform their roles as stated below in order to ensure safety of flight operations, the AC said.
The AC in part read,”By this circular: Air Traffic controllers may temporarily close airspace when hazardous weather conditions such as severe thunderstorms squall lines microburst or low level wind-shear are observed or forecast by NIMET.
“Flight Crews/Operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) shall ensure adherence to aerodrome weather minima; pilots shall exercise maximum restraint whenever adverse weather is observed or forecast by NIMET; pilot / Flight Crew Members shall obtain adequate departure, en-route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET Aerodrome Meteorological offices prior to flight operations.
The Authority will expect strict compliance to this circular from all stakeholders and violation would be viewed seriously.