The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has warned pilots and airline operators to be wary of weather changes and their adverse effects on flight operations.
The regulator, in an Advisory Circular issued to pilots and airlines, alerted the operators of imminent thunderstorms during the rainy season.
General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said the circular was sequel to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET)’s Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) for 2019. NIMET has predicted that rainy season would begin in earnest in March/April and May/June 2019 in the Southern and Northern parts of the country, which is usually accompanied by turbulence.
This, according to experts, is in addition to microburst, low-level wind share and sometimes events that could affect safety of flight operations.Experts further explained that thunderstorm is caused by cumulonimbus cloud, which could form as low as 6,500ft and as high as 45,000ft. But once the cloud is noticed, pilots should navigate around it and not fly higher or lower.
Hazards of thunderstorm include hail, moderate to severe turbulence and lightning that could cut off communication or set an aircraft ablaze mid-air. Adurogboye said with this information, “It is expected that Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) may temporarily close the airspace during adverse weather conditions.
“Consequently, Flight Crews/Operators and ATCs shall adhere strictly to aerodrome operating minima in line with standard and recommended practices.“All pilots are, therefore, advised to exercise maximum restraint whenever they observe severe weather condition as forecast by NIMET,” he said.
For safe flight operations, pilots and flight crewmembers were urged to obtain adequate departure, en route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET Aerodrome Meteorological Offices in all airports prior to flight operations.Operators are, therefore, required to play a key role in ensuring that adequate measures are put in place to lessen the effects of the attendant flight delays and cancellations on their passengers as occasioned by severe weather conditions in accordance with Part 19 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NCAR) 2015.
While NCAA urged 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 taken seriously.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has apologised to the travellers over difficulties in accessing the international airport terminal at Lagos Airport, due to ongoing road construction along the corridor. FAAN advised passengers to leave their homes early so as to get to the airport on time and formalise their check-in processes with ease.
General Manager, Corporate Affairs FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, said the advice became necessary due to the traffic gridlock experienced by road users along the axis.“We apologise for the inconveniences being encountered by passengers due to the situation, FAAN has already mobilised security agencies to ensure that the situation is effectively managed,” she said.