The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) have carried out a review of Aerodrome Operating Weather Minima for 18 airports in Nigeria.
The review, which will takes effect from today (January 4) is aimed at addressing the unending woes of passengers with regards to flight delays and cancellations occasioned by the harmattan haze.
The last time weather minima were reviewed was in 1983, Daily Trust gathered.
The foggy weather, described as Force Majure in aviation parlance, triggered cancellations and delays of many flights this week, especially in the North including Kaduna, Yola, Maiduguri as well as well as some southern states of Enugu, Calabar, among others.
Daily Trust learnt that an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Enugu had to land in Lagos on Tuesday with many scheduled flights to the far north diverted to Abuja forcing passengers to continue their journeys by road.
However, with the current review, it appears solution is in the offing.
The general manager, Public Relations of NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, explained in a statement that the semblance of revision undertaken in 1993 only stated that the takeoff minima shall be equal or greater than landing minima at all airports to allow for an air return to the same airport in case of an emergency.
But the current review covering 18 airports allows for takeoff as low as 150 metres Runway Visual Range (RVR) while some airports in the country with Category Two Instrument Landing Systems (ILS Cat II) can permit landing with 300 metres RVR.
Before this review, the lowest visibility with Category Two ILS in the nation’s airports was 800 metres/550 RVR implying that aircraft would be able to take off and land in weather minimum lower than the 800/550.
The 18 aerodromes where the operating minima and takeoff minima have 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.
The authorities said the review is in compliance with the provision of Part 8 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs Part 8), and in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Doc.9365.
Based on the review, the following airports now have ILS Cat II Approach and Landing Minima: Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Ilorin, Gombe, Owerri, Sokoto, Uyo, Yola, Dutse, Calabar and Enugu.
Adurogboye explained that the regulatory authority took cognisance of improvements in visual and navigational aids within the affected airports.
According to him, the reviewed Aerodrome Operating Minima would serve to enhance the operating capacity of the aerodromes. This is due to the fact that it will avail the operators improved minima for low visibility operations.
According to NCAA, 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.
To ensure the seamless operation of these revised minima, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) has been tasked “to continue to ensure prompt and regular provision of required meteorological information” which includes flight visibility and Runway Visual Range (RVR) values to all Air Traffic Controller (ATC) units in the airports.
While NAMA and NIMET are to regularly exchange information on weather condition, all airlines, aerodrome operators and air navigation service providers have also been charged to ensure adequate training of their personnel and flight crew involved in low visibility operations.