The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has warned pilots and airline operators to strictly adhere to safety guidelines during the imminent dry season and its attendant hazards.

The warning was inspired yesterday by a weather forecast by Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET), which alerted the public on the looming deterioration in visibility as a result of observed dust haze from the Sahel.

According to NiMET, winds over 10m and 925hPha are favourable for dust-haze propagations into the Northern parts of the country.Due to strong winds, the dust in suspension is expected to propagate to some states in the northern part of the country, which will further reduce horizontal visibility, especially over Katsina, Kano, Nguru, Jigawa, Potiskum and Maiduguri in the next 24 hours.

The apex regulatory body for local air transport noted that the information was intended to alert pilots about the nature of weather associated with dry season in Nigeria ranging from light/ moderate to severe dust haze and sometimes early morning fog, which can sometimes reduce the horizontal visibility to below the aerodrome operating minima.

Therefore, members of the public are to take necessary precaution during this time in the planning of their trips so as not to encounter unnecessary flight delays.

Effects of this hazardous weather on flight operations include air-to-ground visibility reduction due to haze dust or fog; aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed operating minima and in severe conditions, dust haze can blot out runways, markers and airfield lightings over wide areas making visuals navigation extremely difficult.

Consequently, flights are bound to be delayed, diverted, or cancelled where terminal visibility falls below the prescribed aerodrome operating minima.

“In view of the above, all pilots, operators, and Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) are obliged to abide by safety requirements. These include closure of the airspace by Air Traffic Controllers when any of these conditions are observed or forecast by NIMET.”

Strict adherence to published aerodrome weather minima by Flight Crews/Operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC).

“Pilots/Flight Crew Members shall obtain adequate departure, en-route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET Aerodrome Meteorological Offices and Stations prior to flight operations and exercise maximum restraint whenever an adverse weather is observed; and

“Operators shall ensure that all necessary measures are put in place to cushion the effects of delay or cancellations on their passengers.

“While the Authority urges all passengers to exercise patience and understanding during this period as their safety is of utmost importance, airline operators and stakeholders are also advised to avail themselves of weather reports for effective planning in their operations as violations would be viewed seriously.”

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