Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - As most parts of Nigeria is blanketed by harmattan haze, the regulatory Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Thursday warned all pilots and airline operators in the country to adhere strictly to approved weather minima during the period.
''The issuance of the circular is predicated on the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) forecast that the prevailing weather condition is likely to herald long and severe harmattan in the months ahead,'' NCAA said in a statement obtained by PANA here.
''This poses a great threat to aviation particularly in areas of challenging terrains because of reduced atmospheric visibility in harmattan dust haze,’’ it said.
NCAA said the ''advisory circular'' was intended to alert pilots to the hazards associated with harmattan - a dry and dusty wind that blows South from Sahara across the country between the end of November and March.
The effect of the harmattan is comparable to that of heavy fog, which reduces air-to-ground visibility.
In severe conditions, dust haze could blot out runways, markers and airfield lightings over wide areas, making visual navigation extremely difficult or impossible.
''Where terminal visibility falls below the prescribed weather minima, flights are bound to be delayed, diverted or cancelled,'' NCAA said, advising pilots to exercise maximum restraint when strong surface wind, fog or harmattan haze is observed or forecast.
Similarly, it said, all pilots must obtain adequate departure, en-route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET prior to flight operations at all the aerodromes.
The harmattan haze has already started causing long delays in domestic flights across the country.
-0- PANA SEG 15Dec2011