The Director-General of the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Dr. Anthony Anuforom, has said the Harmattan condition being experienced in the country would not negatively affect flight operations because of improved navigational aids installed to provide real-time information about weather situation in the airspace.
Although there are higher levels of turbulence in the airspace, pilots described the situation as normal during the Harmattan season and noted that besides the banking of aircraft, it did not portend any danger to flight operations.
Besides, NIMET predicts critical situations when airlines and pilots are ordered by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) not to take off or operate into some airports due to low level wind shear or other severe weather conditions.
Anuforom explained to newsmen that the Harmattan period would end in a matter of days as the rainy season would soon be ushered in some parts of the country.
He said a lot of technology has been deployed by NIMET for precise prediction of weather conditions, adding that the agency would ensure correct and verifiable meteorological services in the area of adequate facilities to operate within the internationally acceptable standards as obtained anywhere in the world.
"NIMET has whatever equipment we need to make accurate weather forecast and we are doing that. I cannot go through the entire list, but I can tell you that today we have five upper air stations that are functional. Upper air stations observe weather condition at different flight levels. So those of you who are familiar with our operations know that we have our observatories. This is called surface observation. It tells you the weather condition on the surface," Anuforom said.
He said that in order to make our forecast accurate, "we must monitor the upper air stations. Before this government came on board, there was only one upper air station in a country that is 930,000 square kilometres wide. That is not acceptable by any standard. But today, we actually have seven of them but two are yet to be installed. Within this quarter we hope to increase it to seven upper air stations; so the higher the density, the higher the accuracy. This is what this administration is doing in the spirit of transformation agenda."
The NIMET boss also explained that the agency was working in conformity with stipulated international standards, adding that there was no Nigerian aviation or Nigerian meteorology in terms of standards.
He commended the aviation minister for supporting the agency to realise its dream of providing the best service, which was second to none in the world, adding that foreign airlines especially British Airways relied mostly on its weather forecast.