aviation

NIMET Raises Air Travelers’ Awareness on Poor Visibility in Airspace as Christmas Approaches

December 18, 2021

As more Nigerians have taken to travel by air because of the insecurity on the roads, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has again cautioned the citizens on possibility of poor visibility in the coming days.

NIMET’s Central Forecast Office made this prediction adding that the development was as a result of fresh dust plumes raised at the dust source region (Faya Largeau in Chad Republic).
This, according to the agency, is expected to move into the country and reduce horizontal visibility.

“Dust haze conditions are expected to intensify before the end of December 14, 2021 over most of the Northern cities, horizontal visibility should further deteriorate from 0600 local time of 15th December 2021; as thick dust haze should be observed over some of the Northern cities keeping visibilities to 1000m and below over places like Maiduguri, YobeNguru, Potiskum, Dutse, Gombe, Yola, Bauchi, Katsina, Kano, and Kaduna,” NIMET said in a statement.

NIMet therefore warned that flight operations may be disrupted and airline operators are advised to pick up their flight folders and adhere to regulations, especially at aerodromes in the Northern parts of the country, while road users should exert caution while driving along areas with poor visibility during this period and people with respiratory problems should take caution.

Also in its High Temperature Outlook, NIMet warned that High-temperature between 35°C and 40°C is expected over parts of Kebbi, Sokoto, Kaduna, and Zamfara in the northwest. Similarly, in the northeast, temperature greater than 35°C and less than 40°C is expected over parts of Taraba, and Adamawa. In the north-central, parts of Niger, Kwara, Kogi, FCT, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, and Plateau are also expected to experience 35°C and less than 40°C. Areas in the south that are expected to record the same temperature range (35°C and less than 40°C) include parts of Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Edo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo and Cross River.

The agency therefore advised Nigerians to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, avoid leaving humans or animals in the car, especially young children.

It also advised that people should stay in the shade such as under trees if they have to wait outside, wear light and bright clothing, and to avoid wearing dark coloured clothes.
It is hoped that there would be improvement in navigational aids to enhance flight operations under low visibility during the Yuletide.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has said it has installed Category 111 Instrument Landing System (ILS) at some airports, which enables flights to land at very low visibility.
The agency also said it has commenced the implementation of Free Routing Airspace (FRA) to enhance airspace efficiency and reducing operational cost to airlines.

The Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, said Nigeria had earlier in October 2021 notified the global aviation community of its intent to commence the implementation of the Free Routing Airspace concept in December 2021.

“The journey to the implementation of the Free Routing Airspace in Nigeria started two years ago, following the decision and recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) AFI (African- Indian Ocean) Region that member states should develop necessary strategies towards implementation of FRA in their respective states and regions. ICAO in collaboration with International Air Transport Association (IATA) supported this push by developing the FRA concept of operations, conducting FRA gap analysis as well as providing guidance in the development of FRA implementation checklist,” he said.

Akinkuotu further said that after several meetings, workshops and co-ordination among contiguous FIRs (Flight Information Regions), the FRA concept “is surely transforming from an abstract idea to concrete reality and that has been largely the Nigerian experience as the nation successfully commenced FRA implementation on the 2nd of December, 2021.”

“FRA was first conceptualized about 13 years ago in Europe, being the first region in the world to have implemented a full FRA concept beginning from 2008. However, in the entire ICAO AFI Region, Nigeria is the second country, after Mauritius to implement this globally new concept,” Akinkuotu said.

Explaining further, the NAMA boss said FRA basically accorded airspace users over Kano FIR the opportunity to migrate from the conventional fixed Air Traffic Service (ATS) route network to flight plannable direct routes between a published FRA significant boundary entry point to a published FRA significant boundary exit point, thereby optimisingairspace utilisation.

He listed the benefits of FRA to airspace users to include: savings in terms of distance covered per route segment; savings in terms of time required to cover one route leg; fuel savings per route leg as well as carbon emission reduction per route segment per volume of airspace.

Akinkuotu therefore enjoined airline operators in Nigeria to take advantage of new technologies being deployed by the agency as these would enhance their operational efficiency and reminded them that NAMA had deployed several next generation tools like the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) Approaches, Controller-Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC), Instrument Landing System (ILS) Category II and III and others to enhance flight operations even in low visibility.

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