The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has sent out an appeal to passengers for their understanding over the prevailing flight delays and cancellations experienced in airports across the country due to the adverse weather situation.
According to the Authority, the prevailing inclement weather is a global experience at the moment which had warranted cancellation of in-bound international flights alike; and therefore, not peculiar to Nigeria.
This appeal is contained in a release issued by NCAA at the Aviation House on Thursday, February 13, 2020.
Earlier, the Authority had urged pilots, operators and other stakeholders to exercise restraints over harmattan dust haze and safety approach to adopt.
The Regulatory Agency issued an Advisory Circular (AC): NCAA-AEROMET-28 dated 12th November, 2019 alerting pilots of the hazards associated with dust haze. It is a dry and dusty wind that blows south from the Sahara across Nigeria which is expected to persist till March, 2020.
As issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency in its Seasonal Rainfall Prediction Bulletin-2019, the cessation of the rainy season was 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, NCAA added.
Pilots/Operators are therefore directed to note the following hazards and operational problems forthwith in the interest of safety: 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.
Flights are bound to be delayed, diverted or cancelled where terminal visibility falls below the prescribed aerodrome operating minima. On the other hand, NCAA enumerated series of responsibilities for Pilots, Operators and Air Traffic Controllers, stating that Pilots shall exercise maximum restraint when severe weather condition is observed or forecast by Nimet; Flight Crews/Operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) shall ensure adherence to aerodrome weather minima; 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. NCAA also said operators shall ensure that necessary measures are put in place to cushion the effects of flight delays or cancellations on their passengers.
According to NCAA, while passengers must be informed of any development concerning their flights well ahead of time by the Airlines, the regulatory authority will expect strict compliance from all stakeholders regarding the Circular as violation will be seriously viewed.