The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has granted air traffic controllers the authority to temporarily close the airspace whenever harsh atmospheric conditions are forecast by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.
The directive was due to the severe weather phenomenon over Nigerian airports since the onset of the rainy season in the country.
This is according to a weather advisory circular issued by the NCAA Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Capt. Musa Nuhu, who demanded strict compliance from stakeholders.
The NCAA in a weather Advisory Circular (AC) issued to the industry indicated that when the occurrence of a thunderstorm, squall lines, microburst or low-level wind shear are observed or forecast by NIMET, air traffic controllers may close the airspace temporarily.
Statistics from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency has revealed that most of the airports had recorded a number of thunderstorms between March and July.
In the month of July, NIMET data indicated the following number of thunderstorm occurrence: Abuja (23), Ikeja (8), Kano (24), Port Harcourt (11), Owerri (17) and Benin (11).
In the same month, gustiness ranged between 22Kt and 42Kt at the listed airports, the circular said.
The NCAA, which expressed worry regarding the safety of flight operations during rainy seasons and adverse weather conditions, directed all stakeholders to perform their roles as contained in the circular.
The circular read in part, “By this circular: Air Traffic controllers may temporarily close airspace when hazardous weather conditions such as severe thunderstorms, squall lines, microburst or low-level wind shear are observed or forecast by NIMET.
“Flight crews/operators and air traffic controllers shall ensure adherence to aerodrome weather minima; pilots shall exercise maximum restraint whenever adverse weather is observed or forecast by NIMET.”
It added that pilot and flight crew members should obtain adequate departure, en-route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET aerodrome meteorological offices prior to flight operations.
The Authority noted that it expected strict compliance to the circular from all stakeholders and violation would be viewed seriously.