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Nigerian News: New radar for Lagos airport

Six airports located in Abuja , Kano , Lagos , Maiduguri , Port Harcourt and Yola are to get Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) by January.

The DWR has the capacity to detect and track a weather system as far as 400 to 800 kilometres.

It can also scan the atmosphere continuously, and provides weather information every two minutes, thereby giving the Weather Forecaster the ability to update the public on the changing characteristics of the system.

A document obtained by The Nation yesterday showed that the acquisition of the DWR system is coming almost 29 years after Nigeria attempted to instal it in some of its airports.

It was learnt that President Umaru Yar’Adua asked the Ministry of Aviation to execute the project as part of steps to strengthen the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET). Aviation Minister, Babatunde Omloba, has already taken steps to effect the directive.

The document reads: “The first attempt by Nigeria to acquire Doppler Weather Radar was in the early 1980s, when three of the equipment were procured and installed in Lagos and Kano. The installation in Port Harcourt was inconclusive. That project was not sustained and by the early 1990s, the entire system had broken down.

“In 2003, a new move to procure Doppler Weather Radar was initiated in the ministry. Again, this suffered a series of setbacks, until August 2008 when President Umaru Yar’Adua’s government got the Nigerian Doppler Weather Radar back on track and gave it renewed impetus.

“Government provided money for the initial payment to enable the manufacturer commence production. The production of the six new Doppler Weather Radars is currently in progress in USA.

“The project is being handled by Messrs Enterprise Electronics, Inc. The Honourable Minister of Aviation led an inspection visit to the Enterprise Electronics Corporation factory in Alabama in April this year.

“During the visit, the minister pressed for and secured an accelerated implementation programme to ensure early completion of the project. Shipment from the factory is expected to commence in July this year and installation completed in January 2010.

“On special request by NIMET, the DWR being produced for Nigeria will also have the capacity to monitor the development and propagation of dust plumes which also affects flight operations in the country.”

For effective landing and take-off of aircraft in all airports, the document also explained that the Federal Government has granted approval to NIMET to “procure and instal Low Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS) at some airports.”

The document added: “Wind shear is a hazardous meteorological phenomenon caused by sudden changes in the wind speed and/or direction over a short distance and/or short period of time. These changes could either be in the horizontal or vertical direction in the atmosphere. Wind variability is a perennial and unavoidable phenomenon in the atmosphere. “

Wind Shear is particularly hazardous when it occurs at lower altitudes. Low Level Wind Shear has therefore been recognised as a potential hazard to the aircraft, especially during landing and take-off phases of aircraft. Windshear phenomenon originates from a number of meteorological conditions.

Chief among these conditions are areas of convective clouds, such as the cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds, which are usually associated with severe wind variability and turbulence.

“Also, thunderstorm systems, which are very common in our tropical areas are veritable environments for the occurrence of Low Level Wind Shear and Micro Burst.”