7th December, 2014
By Simon Ateba
Pilots flying over the Nigerian airspace between now and March next year should be wary of harmattan haze, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, warned on Sunday.
“This warning is important as Harmattan is known to pose an obvious threat to aircraft particularly in areas of challenging terrains due to low visibility,” the agency said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Fan Ndubuoke.
The 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.
“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,” NCAA said.
In addition, the consequence of the Harmattan is a heavy fog that causes air – to – ground visibility to be considerably reduced.
“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 outrightly cancelled,” the agency said.
NCAA called on all Pilots to obtain adequate departure, en route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET prior to flight operations at all the airports.
“Pilots are similarly advised to exercise maximum restraint when strong surface wind, fog or harmattan haze is observed or forecast. All concerned are required to ensure compliance with this Circular,” NCAA said.