Harmattan haze: Flights may be delayed, cancelled or diverted, NCAA warns

In its resolve to ensure safe flight operations in Nigeria’s airspace as the harmattan season draws closer, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued Advisory Circular to intimate pilots, operators and other stakeholders about dust haze synonymous with the weather and safety approach to adopt.

This Advisory Circular AC: NCAA-AEROMET-28 dated 12th November 2019 but made available to the media today, according to the NCAA was “intended to alert Pilots to the hazards associated with dust haze which is a dry and dusty wind that blows south from the Sahara across Nigeria. This situation is expected to persist until March 2020.

“As issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) in its Seasonal Rainfall Prediction Bulletin-2019, the cessation of the rainy season is predicted from mid-October (in the Northern part) to early December 2019 (in the Southern part).

“With the issuance of this circular, Advisory Circular AC: NCAA – AEROMET 27 dated 26th March 2019 is accordingly cancelled.

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“Pilots/Operators are therefore directed to note the following hazards and operational problems forthwith: Air-to-ground visibility may be considerably reduced due to dust haze; 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 visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible; and Flights are bound to be delayed, diverted or cancelled where terminal visibility falls below the prescribed aerodrome operating minima.”

The regulatory body also enumerated series of responsibilities for Pilots, Operators and Air Traffic Controllers which include; that Pilots shall exercise maximum restraint when the severe weather condition is observed or forecast by Nimet, that Flight Crews/Operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) shall ensure adherence to aerodrome weather minima.

Equally, all Pilots shall obtain adequate departure, en-route, destination and alternate aerodromes weather information and briefing from the aerodrome meteorological office prior to flight operations while operators shall ensure that necessary measures are put in place to cushion the effects of flight delays or cancellations on their passengers.

The NCAA, however, called for strict compliance from all stakeholders warning that all violations will be seriously viewed.

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