The Director General,and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu has disclosed that the Port Harcourt International Airport has one of the best performing Doppler radar . This is just as he said the issue of vandalisation of airport safety equipment across the country is a major challenge the agency is facing. This is coming on the heels of recent allegation by aviation stakeholders that the Port Harcourt airport navigational aids are not working and the airport is not safe for flight operation, especially night flight.
Speaking with selected Aviation reporters in Abuja , Professor Matazu said the weather instrument at Port Harcourt airport ” is very okay now ” and an automatic weather delay system, which passes information to the air traffic controllers has been deployed. He said “One of the best performing Doppler radar is at the Port Harcourt International Airport. Sometime in 2020, we had some technical issues and the engineers from the United States came onboard and rectified it and they are returning for service routine maintenance in the next two weeks. I think Niger Delta experiences more than 300 raining days and that shows we have more than nine months of active raining activities over the year. So, we mostly advise pilots to yield to weather advisories and also to engage our airport personnel. At Port Harcourt Airport, we are upgrading our instrument now that we have visuals and also we have installed meteorological signals. It is automatic equipment, pilots can see the information and also we relate the information to the controllers.”
The DG further said ” The most important thing is for the pilots to yield to advisory, take forecasts before, weather advisory and also the terminal forecast to the destination airport before leaving. Also, by integrating weather into their flight plan, it helps a lot in reducing risks and also helps them to plan. Besides, we issue weather alerts to operators, especially to passengers that during the rainy season, they should be very patient with airlines when there is a delay due to weather because we all know that in the air, there is no parking space. The moment you are in it and there is a hazard, you are going to encounter it.” He also advise the pilots to yield to these weather advisories. He also revealed that NIMET is ” planning stakeholders’ interactions in order to encourage, especially pilots and crew to consider weather as a very important part of the flight plan. In Abuja and Lagos airports, we are improving the pilots briefing rooms.”
“The Port Harcourt in terms of our instrument is very okay now and we have to deploy an automatic weather delay system, which passes information to the air traffic controllers. The most important thing is to yield to the weather advisories and passengers should be very patient with airlines when there are delays due to bad weather. Delays happen all over the world, but the most important thing is communication,” Professor Matazu added. Speaking on some of the challenges facing the agency, the DG said : ” Since I came onboard in April this year and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) , being a service provider especially in the aviation industry, and also a weather and climate service provider in the general socio-economical arena of the country, is faced with several challenges. Basically, the major challenge I encountered immediately on arrival at NiMET was the issue of vandalisation of our airport safety equipment across the country.”
” In order to reduce the risk of negative weather phenomenon like low level windshear system and other possible moving weather system, NiMET installed negative instrument, which are very sensitive and capital intensive like Doppler radar system, Runway Visual Range (RVR) across all our 24 airports and specifically for the four major airports, we have independent weather forecast offices. Some of these instruments have sensors installed in them, even at airports that have perimeter fences, we have very serious challenges of vandalisation and I will give an example of this. Low Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS) has eight sensors, if more than three are down, it will not give a clear picture of the windshear and this is a major hazard to aircraft either landing or taking off.”
On how he is tackling this challenge, he said , ” But, we came up with a model of integrating communities around in securing some of these installations and I can tell you since I came onboard, I instituted a task team on airport operations and parts of the task team, we have our safety officers who now engage the neighbouring hosting communities, involving them in securing the equipment. We provide them with some incentives and welfare to communities to help us to do that”, he revealed.