The recent announcement by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) which predicted three days of thunderstorms, cloudiness and downpour from Monday to Wednesday this week, across the country, may have sent jitters through air travellers, particularly those who plan to travel by air for the upcoming Muslim holiday on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Although flying in the rain can sometimes create long-lasting impressions of fear and flying apathy in passengers, it is not as hazardous as people may think. Here are a few things that air travellers should know about flying in the rain.
It is safe to fly when it is raining/windy
It is important to note that flying when it is raining or windy is safe, as it does not always mean the flight will be a rough one. Since you are likely going to arrive at the airport and remain on the ground prior to any boarding and take-off, there is no cause for fear.
The air traffic controllers (ATC) will not clear an aircraft for take-off if the weather conditions are dangerous. In the worst case, a flight may get delayed and passengers would need to be patient as the delay is to ensure their safety.
Expect a bumpy flight
The flight could get bumpy but that is not to say that the aircraft will crash. Flying through monsoon clouds, especially the curly, rainstorm type, will mean bumps, thuds, sudden drops and inexplicable ‘lifts’ of the aircraft.
Think about it somewhat like manoeuvring a car through potholes and road bumps. As irritating as these things are, they will not necessarily tear a vehicle apart.
Lightning will not affect the aircraft
Lightning accompanying rainfall could hit an aircraft but this hurts neither the aircraft nor the passengers as aeroplanes are built to absorb over eight times the energy carried by a bolt of lightning.
More crucially, in the event of a strike, the energy is dissipated through tiny, pin-like devices on the wings, and does not affect the passengers or the aircraft’s electronics.
Your pilot may choose to land after a strike but that is most likely to be as a safety precaution and not because the aircraft is in a distress situation. There are many incidences that warrant a pilot terminating a journey (making an air return) as a precautionary measure.
Aircraft are built to withstand rough weather
It is also important for passengers to know that aircraft are conceptualised, designed and built to withstand the roughest of weather conditions, including rain. Therefore, a heavy downpour will not tear the plane apart. The wings of an aircraft can withstand extreme pressure, as can the cabin. Advanced aviation navigational aid equipment that are now installed at airports and built into aircraft can facilitate the landing of an aircraft in low visibility without fuss, even if it’s raining cats and dogs, as they say, and no one can see the runway.
Look up to the cabin crew
It’s not uncommon for nervous flyers to imagine the cockpit crew working the controls trying to negotiate a rough patch. The truth, however, is that your pilot is probably worrying about keeping the coffee in his (or her) cup.
Turbulence is common, and in several cases, is negotiated by the aircraft’s autopilot. Also, flight attendants have been trained to handle all worst-case scenarios.
When your aircraft is tossing about and you are trying to figure if it’s safe or not, always pause and observe the flight attendants. They don’t want to die either. Observe how they seem completely unaffected and draw confidence from them that all is well with the flight.
Take a seat right on the wing
If you have a phobia for flying and you know you are bound to get nervous due to inclement weather, then take a seat right on the wing, closest to the aircraft’s centre of gravity, and you will have a relatively calm flight no matter what happens in the sky. But on an aircraft, just like a long bus, if you sit at the back of the aircraft, you’re bound to have a bumpy ride.
Keep to the instructions of the crew
This is by far the most important thing to do. Turbulence is the number one cause of injuries to air passengers in the sky and most often, it’s because some passengers won’t obey the simple instruction to fasten their seat belts.
You may think it’s okay to ignore the seat-belt sign when the goings have been good and it’s nice and sunny outside, but once the weather changes and the seat belt signs come on, it’s best to obey and get the belt buckled.
In case you missed it
The NiMet’s weather outlook released on Sunday in Abuja predicted chances of thunderstorms over parts of Kebbi, Kano, Bauchi, Borno, Taraba, Kaduna, Adamawa and Yobe States in the morning hours on Monday.
NiMet said, “Thunderstorms are expected over the entire Northcentral region in the afternoon and evening periods.
“Inland and Coastal cities of the South are expected to be cloudy over the Southwestern region, with chances of morning rains over Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Abia, Ebony, Ogun, Lagos, Cross River, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Rivers States.”
FG approves reopening of Osubi Airport, Warri for daylight operations
Osubi Airport will be opened for operations in daylight in VFR conditions and observe COVID-19 protocols.
The Federal Government approved the reopening of Osubi Airport, Warri, Delta State for daylight operations on Monday.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, via his Twitter handle on Monday.
According to him, the facility will be opened for operations in daylight in VFR conditions, while observing COVID-19 protocols.
He tweeted, “I have just approved the reopening of Osubi Airport Warri, for daylight operations in Visual Flight rules (VFR) conditions, subject to all procedures, practices and protocols, including COVID-19, strictly being observed. There will not be need for local approvals henceforth.”
VFR are a set of regulations under which a pilot operates an aircraft in weather conditions generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going.
What you should know
- The Airport, which was commissioned on 17th April 1999 by the former Minister of Aviation, Captain Briggs, is managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
- In 2020, the Federal Government, in a letter to all the aviation parastatals, had allegedly terminated the contract of Shoreline Oil Services Limited, the operator of the airport, with immediate effect, citing incompetence.
- The facility has been a subject of controversy since it changed hands from the original owner, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), to Shoreline in partnership with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in 2015.
London’s Heathrow airport slides into £2 billion annual loss
Following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, London’s Heathrow airport has recorded a net annual loss of £2 billion in 2020.
London’s Heathrow airport has recorded a net annual loss of £2 billion in 2020, underlining the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation sector.
This is as 2020, which has been identified as one of Heathrow’s most challenging years has record passengers’ level not seen since the 1970s.
This disclosure is contained in a public statement seen on the company’s website and seen by Themoneymetrics.
The company said that the number of passengers dropped to 22.1m, more than half of the numbers that travelled in January and February. It pointed out that the overall revenue fell 62% to £1.2bn and adjusted earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell to £270m.
The company said in order to weather the storm, realizing that airports have very high fixed costs, it acted quickly to cut gross operating costs by nearly £400m, reduced capital expenditure by £700m and raised £2.5bn in funding including a £600m capital injection. The firm ended the year with £3.9bn of liquidity, enough to see us through until 2023.
The airport which is one of the busiest in the world reported a 28% decline in cargo volumes, showing the cost to the economy of shutting down aviation.
Passenger planes from Heathrow are the UK’s global trading network, carrying British exports and inbound supply chain. Economic recovery will be held back until long haul passenger flights are restarted, especially to key markets such as the US
The Chief Executive Officer of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye said, “We can be hopeful for 2021, with Britain on the cusp of becoming the first country in the world to safely resume international travel and trade at scale. Getting aviation moving again will save thousands of jobs and reinvigorate the economy.”
He also said, “2020 has been one of our most challenging years – but despite £2bn of losses and shrinking to passenger levels we haven’t seen since the 70s, I am hugely proud of the way that our colleagues have kept our passengers safe and the UK’s hub airport open for vital supplies throughout. We can be hopeful for 2021, with Britain on the cusp of becoming the first country in the world to safely resume international travel and trade at scale.
’Getting aviation moving again will save thousands of jobs and reinvigorate the economy, and Heathrow will be working with the Global Travel Taskforce to develop a robust plan underpinned by science and backed by industry. The Prime Minister will then have the unique opportunity to secure a global agreement on a common international standard for travel when he hosts the G7 in June. In the meantime, we need next week’s Budget to support aviation’s recovery by extending furlough and providing 100% business rates relief.”
What you should know
- The United Kingdom is one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with the aviation sector one of the most affected due to the lockdown.
- The International Air Transport Association (IATA) had called for urgent government assistance and warned that airlines would lose $252bn (£215bn) in revenues in 2020, more than double its earlier worst-case forecast.
NCAA lifts ban on Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, approves operation in its airspace
The NCAA has approved the lifting of the ban earlier placed on Boeing 737 Max Aircraft in the Nigerian Airspace.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has approved the lifting of the ban it had earlier placed on Boeing 737 Max Aircraft in the Nigerian Airspace with effect from February 12, 2021.
This follows a joint review of the Boeing 737 MAX safety system by International Aviation Authorities, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
This disclosure is contained in a press statement issued by the NCAA and signed by its Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Capt. Musa Nuhu.
The statement from NCAA partly reads, “On the 18th November 2020, the Authority received a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) CAN-2020-24 advising it of the United States Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) ongoing continued operational safety activities related to returning Boeing Model 737-8 and 737-9 (737 MAX) aircraft service.
‘’This, however, made the FAA issue a final rule/Airworthiness Directive (AD) that mandated the following actions for Boeing 737 MAX aircraft which includes:
- Install new flight control computer software and new 737 MAX display system software;
- Incorporate certain Airplane Flight Manual flight crew operating procedures, Modify horizontal stabiliser trim wire routing installations;
- Conduct an angle of attack sensor system test; and
- Conduct an operation readiness flight.
“NCAA recognizes that a Joint Authority Technical Review (JATR) that comprised of International Aviation Authorities such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Transport Canada (TC) and the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority amongst others carried out a joint review of the Boeing 737 MAX safety system alongside FAA and NASA.
“In the light of the above, the FAA has released documents on Boeing 737 Flight Standardization Board Report, revision 17, identifying special pilot training for the 737 MAX and Safety Alert for Operators.’’
The statement also says NCAA came up with some actions required of all foreign and domestic operators as a result of its recognition of the joint review of the Boeing 737 Max Safety System. Some of the actions include:
- All intending domestic operators are required to work with the Boeing Company and NCAA for the Aircraft Type Certificate Acceptance Programme in order to have the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft registered in Nigeria and issued with a Standard Certificate of Airworthiness.
- All foreign air operators that intend to operate the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into Nigeria must submit evidence of compliance with the FAA AD 2020-24-02
The NCAA stated that it would continue to ensure strict compliance to Safety Regulations as violation[s] would be viewed seriously.
What you should know
- It can be recalled that the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had about 2 years ago announced the ban on the operations of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the Nigerian airspace, following two accidents involving the Boeing 737 Max Aircraft.
- The accidents involved Lion Air Flight 610, an Indonesia flight which crashed into the Java Sea, 13 mins after takeoff, and Ethiopian Airlines flight 320, which crashed 6 minutes after takeoff.
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