Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah
By Chinedu Eze
To avert any possible air mishap due to bad weather, the Federal Government has ordered pilots and airline operators to adhere strictly to weather reports or be sanctioned, regretting that recently, pilots have not been attending weather briefings and may have been allegedly flouting the weather directives.
In a statement issued by the Ministry of Aviation and signed by the Special Adviser (Media) to the Minister, Joe Obi, some pilots were accused of arriving at airports that had bad weather condition because of their lack of previous knowledge of the condition of such airports and were forced to make air return back to their airport of departure.
“Lately, it has been observed that only flight dispatchers go to the Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) to obtain meteorological folders without the pilots themselves actually receiving the weather briefing. This accounts for why aircraft take off and get to their destinations but are unable to land,” the statement noted.
The Federal Government therefore ordered that henceforth, all airline operators and pilots should obtain and confirm their destination weather reports from the AIS before start-up and take-off of flights, noting that this was in accordance with international standards and best practices with the aim of preventing incidents of avoidable air returns due to unfavourable weather conditions.
Government also stressed that the information, which is provided by Nigerian Institute of Meteorology (NIMET), is readily available at the AIS and meant to guide pilots on destination weather and to assist them make informed decisions on whether or not to take off from one airport to another.
“There is therefore absolutely no reason and justification for an aircraft to make an air return on the basis of poor weather condition since initial weather report from the AIS would have been adequate to indicate the futility of an initial take-off under such harsh weather conditions.
“This recklessness on the part of airline operators and pilots will no longer be tolerated and infractions would be met with serious sanctions as this has the potential of compromising the safety of the nation’s airspace,” the statement said.