DISPATCHER — WHEN WEATHER WAS BAD

Weather, ground and aloft, is a highly influencing factor in aeroplane commuting. Different types of weather phenomena have uniquely different effects on the aircraft. Weather types cannot be controlled by the aviator or any man but much of it can be managed relating to the aviator’s work. Quite many types are also adapted to geographic regions of the world. Weather effects on bodies are not to be dared if not well understood, aeroplanes inclusive. Incidences of this phenomenon may not be precisely predictable with even the most modern seismographic, solar, spatial, technological equipment. Most of these predictions in forecasts follow trends and then projections. This exercise in itself demands quite much use of different kinds of equipment interfacing with human cognition and ability to manipulate into getting a result hence a major area in air commuting which can make or mar safety in the air and on ground. Meteorology is the study of the elements of the atmosphere wherein the aircraft operates.

The atmosphere itself consists of different gases in different volumes and proportions in combinations from one area, one spatial level to another even in water depths. Every felt weather type has a name principally deriving from its peculiar characteristics. That makes the identification easy, that makes the management possible, that determines avoidance or penetration, that pre-determines anticipated safety in flight operations. The air the vessel glides through itself is the principal weather element and the activities derived within it are what result in these numerous types of weather. Many of these activities are grouped together by the reason of related characteristics to attain a common identification. These weather effects happen virtually everywhere.

The way they are being sensed and felt differ from body to body, from place to place. The way the human body feels it is different from the way particular animals’ bodies feel it, the effects on inanimate objects differ from on animate objects and such inanimate objects encasing animate objects within themselves like the aircraft. Well and of course, these days, drones are also aircraft and they fly about carrying out so many functions and yet not manned. Drones are aircraft. They are also well subjected to weather effects especially in areas of visibility where their surveillance functions come into function. One of the major reasons a Dispatcher sits at his/her beat is to, ahead of time for an operation, begin to collect, collate, analyse and project the aircraft for a flight into the weather all through the path of the flight bearing in mind the overall safety of the flight. Where to penetrate, where to divert, where to avoid, where and when to return and so on. You may say, what does it matter, at least the Dispatcher is not in the aircraft. The way his work is structured is such that he has to convince the commander of the operation who himself is in the aircraft anyway so much that the commander is satisfied and comfortable to take the aeroplane up. That way, the two of them are responsible for the safety of the operation, I mean, aircraft and passengers. This is just one aspect of the so many put in place for passengers safe commuting that the Dispatcher sees to. Weather is one phenomenon that is beyond human initiation, control or termination. Ask the Maker. But it is not beyond human management. After all, if it is that risky, the flight will not go. It is better to keep the aeroplane on ground than to send it into the air to be shattered. Let the passengers grumble out of ignorance, explain to them and if they fail to reason with you, insist on not having anybody’s blood on your hand. While some types of weather are desirous in one area of human endeavour, they are to be fled from in some others.

We can simply take the case of the rain. The farmer wants the downpour. It is free for him whereas some people pay through their heavy sweat to irrigate, dig for water, mobilise water to aid their activities, for drinking the aircraft will rather not have this phenomenon, the construction man will complain, the man caught in it walking on the road would have preferred it was not so and so on but life must go on. Deep studies of weather is so required in flying such that particular officers of airlines are devoted to be following it and liaising with established organisations world-wide vested with such study. Mind you, these organisations are not there for flying alone, the same bodies attend to ground effects including the sea, coastal lands, mountainous areas and so on. These establishments also forecast such phenomena as Hurricanes, Typhoons, Tsunamis, Wild fires, Floods, Mudslides, Volcanoes, Earthquakes and so on. Not by mere human brain works but with the installation, use and monitoring of myriads of relative equipment. To monitor atmospheric activities that translate to different types of weather phenomena, satellites in space are fitted with so many deriving equipment, the reports of which are analysed on ground and weather forecasts are made up putting along some other input otherwise. The one who follows the trend of these activities stands a good ground to determine an approaching weather effect anytime within the coverage of his watch. Now we know these weather effects occur just any and everywhere. It becomes a concern to the aviator when it appears around the path of the aircraft, on ground or in the air. Some people may think, why is this weather disturbing this airfield, not so, it is just the turn of the field’s location or even space location that day and time of your flight, the last time, it happened right over your roof at home or at work but because it is of no significance to you there, you were not bothered. Good enough, organisations abound that give advance warnings to such service requiring outfits whose equipment of use might need to be cautioned in the use of their equipment at particular weather periods.

You will be warned of poor visibility at a time especially during Harmattan, of danger in black clouds, of slippery grounds during downpour water collection on the ground, of care in increasing and erratic wind speeds, of the effect of volcanic ash spew, of opposing wind to your direction and so on. The major one of such organisations adept to flying retain the Controllers. They also depend on information from the weather studiers, forecasters and some equipment within their purview, Department of Meteorology of the Aviation Ministry (NIMET).  It’s like nothing is left uncovered to achieve the safety of a flight. The Dispatcher, as the airline staff, is that professional that stands to bring to bear among his workings the interpretation and relationship of these weather elements to accomplishing a smooth flight, so it portends that every flight is attended to by a Dispatcher before he releases the flight. He is able to do this because he was trained for it and he is embedded in required result oriented information yielding equipment. I can only attempt to mention some of the weather phenomena affecting flying, ground and air, found within our region and probably what they bring, it will be rather technical to go into their geneses and developments.

Storms: Erratic and forceful wind movements on ground or in the air that are associated with turbulence. These degrade aircraft performance.

Lightening: Strong electrical forces derived from collision of opposing winds. It can short-circuit aircraft electrical components and that is large

Thunder: Lightening is a component of this. It degrades flight performance

Squall: If close to the ground can deplete aircraft descent rate

Shear: Like the name suggests, can also shear an aircraft apart

Microburst: Sounds technical. It is a continuous downpour of wind of high momentum. It can force an aircraft down

Rain: When heavy and close to the ground, it depletes the aircraft’s performance and when collected on the field, it can slide the aircraft off its path on ground

Clouds: So many types. Some may not be seen by naked eyes. The Dispatcher and Pilot know which ones to avoid. They actually result in rains and many other weather phenomena.

Mountain side effects: Wind rushing in the direction of high grounds create weather

Many more

 Have a safe weather free flight.