The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCCA) yesterday issued a weather hazard alert to pilots and airline operators, urging them to adhere strictly to security, safety standards and processes that guide flying in the rainy season to forestall air crashes in the country.
The NCAA said the alert had become imperative given that the outset of the rainy season is usually accompanied with severe thunderstorms and several hazardous weather phenomena such as turbulence, microburst, low level wind shear and hail events, which have all been known to pose obvious threat to smooth aircraft operations. In a circular issued by its Director General, Capt. Muhtar Usman, and made available to journalists by the NCAA spokesman, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, the agency vowed to sanction erring pilots and airlines.
The alert, the NCAA said, was issued based on the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) released for 2018 by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), which predicts March/April and May/June 2018 as the onset for rainy season in the southern and northern parts of Nigeria respectively.
According to NCAA, during the period, air traffic controllers may temporarily close an airspace when hazardous weather conditions such as severe thunderstorms, squall lines, microburst or low level wind shear are observed or forecast by Nimet.
In order to forestall air crashes, the NCAA said as “pilots/flight crew members must obtain adequate departure, en-route and destination weather information and briefing from Nimet Aerodrome Meteorological officer prior to all flight operations, “pilots shall exercise maximum restraint whenever adverse weather is observed or forecast by Nimet.
“Airline operators are therefore advised to ensure necessary measures are put in place to manage effects of flight delays or cancellations on their passengers.
“All stakeholders are required to ensure strict compliance with this circular as violations would be viewed seriously,” the statement added.