Aviation Safety: NiMet, U.S Consortium Partner to Install Thunder, Lightning Detectors

By Hillary Asemota

The Nigerian aviation industry on Wednesday received a boost following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the United States (U.S) based aviation technology firm: Earth Networks (EN), for the installation of a 10-lightning detection, surface weather monitoring technology and thunder alert system for installation in 10 airports.

Speaking when the Director General (DG/CEO) of NiMet, Prof. Bako Matazu, expressed excitement while receiving the equipment from representatives of the company, Messrs. Jean Blaise Ngameni and Zanvier Bentefuoete, at the Headquarters of the agency in Abuja.

He reiterated that the installation of the equipment across 10 Nigeria airports, which marked a turning point in the industry will assist using real time internet signals to detects a large portion of in-cloud (IC) and Cloud to Ground (CG) lightning.

According to him, the world class equipment utilizes data to enhance and improve high weather forecast and enable its proprietary products known as dangerous ‘thunderstorm alerts’ and pulse raid respectively.

The signing of the MoU, he added started in August 2021 between NiMet and EN followed a formal request for collaboration from Earth Networks to NiMet, stressing that the equipment is coming as a booster to Nigeria’s aviation at no financial cost to Federal Government and NiMet.

He said: “Earth Networks developed a lightning detection and surface weather monitoring technology that detects a large portion of In-cloud (IC) and Cloud to Ground (CG) lightning.

“EN utilizes data to enhance weather forecast and enable its proprietary products known as dangerous ‘Thunderstorm Alerts’ and pulse raid respectively, EN also produces and delivers high resolution proof forecasts known as EN-cast and other derivative products.

On the significant improvement that the equipment will bring to Nigeria’s aviation sector, the NiMet boss, said the agency desires to improve its high impact weather forecasting capacity through the utilization of total lightening data and latest point forecasting techniques to provide related services to its customers and stakeholders.

The objective of the collaboration, he added is to support the capacity of NiMet to further develop its service offerings/delivery through working together to deploy EN Stations in various locations that will contribute to the Nigeria Total Lightning and Mesoscale AWS Network (NTLMAN) and enable EN forecasting services (ENcast).

Matazu, added: “NiMet and EN will collaborate to jointly deploy, and operate the NTLMAN and distribute data and derivative services within Nigeria. This partnership will lead to a wide base of internally generated revenue for the Agency with the provision of needed services to various sectors of the economy.

“As part of the execution of the MoU, the agency has received ten (10) AWOS, ten (10) Lightning Detectors and their required accessories at no commercial value to it.

“The equipment will be installed at NiMet facilities and partner institutions in Nigeria to enhance the quality of the data set required to fulfil the terms of the MoU.

“The installation of the equipment is combined with capacity building for NiMet officers. This imply, we are not only getting equipment donation, NiMet is also building the capacity of its staff. Under the supervision and guidance of our EN experts, Abuja, Benin and Lagos will be covered.”

He said, NiMet officers equipped with the skills acquired, will carry out the remaining installations, explaining that through this collaboration, the agency will be able to access EN data for its internal use and public display in degraded form and to resell sensor data and derivative works to its customers.

On mandate, he said the equipment will add to the increasing array of NiMet assets and installations in: • National Weather Forecasting & Climate Research Centre, Abuja where the Headquarters is presently domiciled• World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Regional Training Centre, Oshodi Lagos• 36 State offices

• 55 Synoptic offices• 6 Zonal offices (Enugu, Ibadan, Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri and Port Harcourt)• 12 Marine Stations (Calabar, Eket, Niomr & Koko, Eastmole, Aiyetoro, Warri, Onne, PH Wharf, Apapa, Bonny, and Forcados) • 4 Independent Forecast Offices (Abuja, Ikeja, Kano and Port Harcourt) • Synoptic and Automatic Weather Stations spread across the country

• Instrument Calibration Laboratory, Abuja • Upper Air Stations (Abuja, Enugu, Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri, Jos, Calabar and Yola)MN • 6 Radar stations (Abuja, Port Harcourt [Operational], Yola, Maiduguri, Kano & Lagos

•Over 200 observing stations including Automatic Weather Systems• High Performance Computing (HPC) Centre• Numerical Weather Prediction Simulation Centre • National Training Institute in Katsina.

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