Series of fatal accidents prompts meteorological agency to improve forecasting
Nigerian meteorological agency NIMET is to oversee a substantial upgrade of its facilities in an effort to improve the quality of weather forecasting and briefing following two fatal accidents where bad conditions proved critical.
The latest accident was on 10 December when a Sosoliso Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 crashed on landing in stormy weather at Port Harcourt airport, killing 108 people.
This followed the 23 October loss of a Bellview Airlines Boeing 737-200, which crashed soon after take-off from Lagos to Abuja, where crew had asked air traffic control for assistance in avoiding storms in the area. Six crew and 111 passengers died.
NIMET says that in a bid to restore confidence in Nigerian aviation it is to open a 24h pilot weather centre at Murtala Muhammed airport at Lagos, to be manned by experienced forecasters who will personally brief pilots on the en-route and terminal aerodrome weather conditions, replacing the use of intermediaries, as had previously been the case.
The agency is also to receive four new RETIM 2000 forecasters’ workstations to complement an existing one at Abuja. These will provide weather charts at various flight levels for Ikeja, Kano and Port Harcourt airports and the Central Forecast Office at Oshodi airport in Lagos.
NIMET says it has now completed installation of two anemometers at newly refurbished runways at Murtala Muhammed and that similar equipment will be installed at Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
The agency says it has also procured 12 digital and 12 analogue barometers and installed 24 sets of GSM desktop telephones for the country’s 22 airports.
NIMET recently concluded the installation of a €200,000 ($240,000), 12-channel second-generation meteorological satellite receiver at Oshodi, donated by the European Union through a World Meteorological Organisation satellite ground receiver project.
Digicora upper air sounding equipment worth over €200,000 and another €50,000-worth of equipment is about to be delivered, donated through the African Multi-disciplinary Monsoon Analysis project for West Africa.
In November, Nigeria is to be one of the first states to submit to the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s expanded universal safety oversight audit procedure. Checks of resources will be central to this process.
AIMEE TURNER / LONDON