NCAA warns pilots, airline over hazardous weather

  • Controllers may close airspace

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued an advisory circular to airlines and pilots advising them to exercise caution during flight operations in hazardous weather conditions.

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

NIMET had 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 micro-burst, low level wind share and sometimes events that could affect the safety of flight operations.

micro-burst is an intense small-scale downdraft  produced by a thunderstorm or rain shower. There are two types of microbursts: wet micro-bursts and dry micro-bursts. With this information, it is expected that Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) may temporarily close the airspace when there are adverse weather conditions.

It can be particularly dangerous to aircraft especially during landing, due to the wind shear caused by its gust front. Several fatal and historic crashes have been attributed to the phenomenon over the past several decades, and flight crew training goes to great lengths on how to properly recover from a micro-burst/wind shear event.
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.”

A statement by spokesman for NCAA, Sam Adurogboye stated that 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.

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He noted that 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.

Experts who spoke to Woleshadarenews stated that the weather could be unpredictable during this season, advised pilots operating on Ilorin route especially to follow instructions from the Instrumental Landing System (ILS).

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One of the experts, a meteorological expert said, “The weather is dynamic and cannot easily be predicted by pilots unless they monitor strictly the instruction of the Instrumental Landing System while landing and taking off.

He however stated that he was at the Ilorin International Airport to meet with management of the airspace to discuss areas of challenges and how to ameliorate it in order to ensure air travel safety.

While noting that airlines have right to decide on whether their aircraft can fly or not during rain, he charged them to yield to guide from the control tower as well as get weather reports through the meteorological units.

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On facilities at Ilorin airport, he maintained that they are in good condition, adding that routine check is   necessary in airspace operations.

The expert stated that pilots, operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) should collaborate, be vigilant and take their various responsibilities very seriously at this critical period.

Wole Shadare