By Chinedu Eze
The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman has released the conditions, which domestic airlines must meet in order to benefit from the downward review of weather minima.
A new weather minima regime, which started in Nigeria on January 4, 2018 allows for takeoff as low as 150 metres Runway Visual Range (RVR) for 18 airports in the country, while some airports in the country with Category Two Instrument Landing Systems (ILS Cat II) can permit landing with 300 metres RVR.
The implication of this review is that when visibility is as low as 150 meters flights can take off and also land, depending on the navigational aids available at the airports of departure and arrival.
The NCAA Director-General told THISDAY in an interview that for airlines to benefit from the new weather regime, which could bring flight delays and cancellations due to weather, to the barest minimum, the airlines must train their pilots and have corresponding onboard equipment to dovetail with the ground navigational aids before the Authority will give approval for the airline to operate in the new weather regime.
Captain Usman said that when these conditions are met, NCAA would approve the documentation of the airline and it would start benefitting from the reduced weather minima.
“There should be training for the crew (pilots) to adhere strictly to the rules because whatever we are doing we have to take safety into consideration first; so training is essential part of safety and also the documentation so that people will understand the procedure and follow the procedure. That is one aspect of what we have done in the review of the landing and takeoff minimum. In taking advantage of that operators will be able to increase their operations.
“The second aspect is the one that requires onboard equipment. It is satellite based system and you will need to have onboard equipment that will publish the procedures for using that satellite based landing system. Some of the airlines, mainly the foreign airlines have the equipment to use those approaches for successful landing. If airlines don’t have the equipment it will not be possible for them to use the equipment. All they need to do is to have alternative onboard equipment, train their crew and also document it properly for us to give them approval to make use of the equipment,” Captain Usman said.
He noted that one of the major airlines in Nigeria, (Arik Air), has that approval and they have been taking advantage of that and “where others are not able to get in they will go in and get out and that has improved their operation capacity.”
NCAA had explained during the review that the reviewed operating minima provided for a performance based takeoff minima for the affected aerodromes in Nigeria which is determined by available visual aids for takeoff.
“These are Runway Centre Lights, Touchdown Zone lights, Runway Edge Lights, Threshold Lights, Runway End Lights and Runway Surface Markings,” the regulatory agency explained.
The 18 aerodromes where the operating minima and takeoff minima has been reviewed are Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Dutse, Eket and Enugu. Others are Gombe, Ilorin, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Owerri, Sokoto, Uyo, Yola and Zaria.