Harmattan: Experts seek collaboration to reduce flight disruptions

Aviation experts have called for collaboration among stakeholders to minimise flight disruptions as the harmattan season approaches.

They also noted that during the period, navigational aids, runway markings and airfield lightning must be calibrated to ensure that they work optimally.

The Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Muhtar Usman, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport 2018 Runway Safety Week in Lagos, said about 60 per cent of aviation accidents in Africa happened on the runway.

He stated that to ensure safety on the runways, agencies in the industry needed to collaborate and imbibe the culture of sharing of information as well as improve upon critical safety facilities.

Usman, who was represented at the event by the General Manager, Navigation Services, NCAA, Mr Mathew Pwajok, said, “Most fatal accidents are either on landing or at takeoff.”

The programme had ‘Low visibility operations on the airside, importance and consequences’ as its theme.

The Managing Director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, represented by the General Manager, Technical Evaluation, Mr Bola Ahmed, said the agency had put several measures in place for the safety of every flight in the airspace and on the ground.

According to him, between 2015 and 2016, the then management of NAMA started working on how to reduce disruptions of flight operations during the period of low visibility usually occurring between November and February.

“This period of the year is characterised by a drastic reduction in visibility sometimes to as low as between 350-450 metres. Before the current review, the minima used to be 800 metres Instrument Landing System operations and the minimum 1,200 metres for a VOR operation, even at the best of times, in most cases, will not be able to achieve all this and most of our carriers will be on the ground,” he said.

Akinkuotu added that the management of the agency had put in place a team to work on minimising the effect of weather on air operations.

The Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mr Saleh Dunoma, said that on a regular basis, runway facilities were being maintained and upgraded, adding that the officers in charge of the facilities were also trained to deliver safety.

Dunoma, represented by the Airport Manager, MMIA, Mrs Victoria Shinaba, said the agency would continue to adhere to international standards and operating procedures.

He also called on stakeholders to work together in sustaining the zero accident record of the industry.

The Team Leader of the MMIA Lagos Runway Safety Team, Mrs Ngozi Njoku, stated that the programme would help to create awareness and sensitise all aviation stakeholders to safety operations as the harmattan period approaches.
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