The Director General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Professor Sani Abubakar Mashi has said that to prevent air mishap during the Harmattan pilots and airlines must observe all weather report alerts and adhere to them to ensure safe flight operations in the country
Harmattan haze has started affecting flight operations, sometimes reducing visibility to the level that it prevents flight operations and as every airport has its visibility minima, flights may not be allowed by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to be operated at such airports during low visbility.
Mashi said that presently NIMET issues weather report alert to airlines every one hour but because of the Harmattan this would be reduced to every 30 minutes and if the situations becomes adverse, it would be reduced to every 20 minutes, so that at every point in time pilots know the weather situation in the airspace.
The NIMET DG told THISDAY that the agency has deployed modern meteorology equipment to effectively monitor the weather, including the low level wind shear alert system in all the major airports in the country.
Low level wind shear is a very dangerous weather dimension which has led to air crashes in Nigeria in the past.
Mashi said that it is because of the efficient job the agency is doing that the International Standard Organisation (ISO) certified NIMET with ISO 9001 2015 and making the agency the only organisation so certified in Africa.
He said that NIMET has been recruited to mentor other meteorology agencies in Africa and that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently invited the agency to guide its Tanzanian counterpart to attain a level of efficiency required of it to deliver reliable weather report and other services.
â€œWe have always been advising airlines and telling them to adhere to weather reports we give them. If advice is given to them that they should treat it as absolutely essential. One thing with Harmattan is that it affects visibility. We have deployed sensors to monitor visibility. They should continue to listen to the advice we are giving them. We use to give them weather report alert every one hour but now we are going to give them the report alert in every 30 minutes or 20 minutes
â€œEarly morning and evening are the best time to fly because human activities are not at their peak during such period. During the afternoon human activities are high but in the morning and in the evening the dust in the atmosphere has settled,â€ Professor Mashi said