The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday issued a weather alert to all Pilots indicating hazards associated with harmattan dust haze in flight operations at this period of the year.
The country’s safety regulatory agency, explained that the warning becomes important because harmattan is known to pose obvious threat to aircraft, particularly in areas of challenging terrains due to low visibility.
A statement made available to journalists yesterday said “This alert is in line with the seasonal rainfall prediction issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) on the cessation of rainy season in 2014.
The harmattan is a dry and dusty wind that blows southwards from the Sahara across the country between the end of November to March, the following year”.
It said further that on its passage over the desert, it picks up large amount of fine dust particles (0.5 to 10 micrometers) which are transported hundreds of kilometres over the south.
The effect of the dust and sand stirred by the wind is known as Harmattan Dust Haze. In addition, the consequence of the Harmattan is a heavy fog hence air – to – ground visibility is considerably reduced.
The statement, signed by Fan Ndubuoke, NCAA General Manager of Public Affairs said aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed minima and in severe conditions; dust haze can blot out runways, the markers and airfield lightings over wide areas. This makes visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible.
Resultantly, where visibility falls below the prescribed weather minima, flight operations are likely to be delayed, diverted or out rightly cancelled.
Therefore, all Pilots shall obtain adequate departure, en route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET prior to flight operations at all the airports.
Pilots are also advised to exercise maximum restraint when strong surface wind, fog or harmattan haze is observed or forecast.