By Sampson Ikemitang
Last week, an attempt was made to dispassionately reel-out the innovative and transformational turn around President Muhammadu Buhari has brought to bear on the aviation sector. This week, effort will again be intensified to full highlight the achievements recorded by his administration, especially as it concerns the aviation sector, with a view to informing the citizenry, thus bridging the likely distortion of information, occasioned by a surge in the social media –the purveyor of fake news. But to get the meat of this piece, one must endeavour to read it carefully to the end in order to have a complete package of an uncommon next level revolution in the sector.
Establishment of a Maintenance, Repair& Overhaul (MRO) Centre
The establishment of a private sector-driven Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Centre is pivotal not only for diversification but in the repositioning of the Aviation industry for greater efficiency. This is because it provides for the much needed routine aircrafts repairs, overhaul and maintenance services. The essentiality of these aforementioned services to the survival of any aviation industry cannot be over-emphasised. Note that at the moment, this facility does not exist in the whole of West and Central Africa. That explains why MRO establishment in the country has become an inevitable requirement for the sustenance and development of the aviation industry. The country is indeed set to blaze a trail in that direction.
In fact, this proposed facility has the capacity to serve both Narrow and Wide Body aircrafts maintenance requirements and will be located in the nation’s seat of power – Abuja. It is important, therefore, to state that the facility has reached an advance stage in the procurement phase, and a preferred partner has been selected whilst negotiations are to resume soon.
Development of Aerotropolis (Airport Cities)
The development of Nigeria’s major commercial airports and the surrounding communities into an efficient, profitable and self-sustaining commercial hubs will no doubt, increase private sector participation and attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Clearly, this project has the potential to create jobs and grow local industry. According to available records, the project will be based on Public Private Partnership, PPP, arrangements. In this case, the Private Partner will be required to design, develop, finance and maintain the Aerotropolis within the agreed period. Incontrovertibly, the Aerotropolis is meant to contain the full complement of commercial facilities that help support airlines and aviation linked businesses. Meanwhile, other components of the project will include the development of hospitality and tourism oriented real estate assets and its ancillary support infrastructure.
Development of Cargo/Agro-Allied Airport Terminals
It cannot be gainsaid that the development of cargo/agro-allied airport terminals will enable the country to take full advantage of its high value agricultural products potential. As such, the need to develop dedicated Cargo/ Agro-Allied Terminals and ancillary infrastructure in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country to ease the movement of fresh produce by air becomes imperative. These terminals will be established on the basis of Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Maintain model of Public, Private Partnership, PPP.
It should be stressed that the proposed terminals will have facilities such as dry cargo terminal warehouse, perishable cargo terminal with cool chain storage, climate chamber for storage and handling of temperature sensitive products. Remarkably, this project has reached the final stage of its development and is expected to be completed by the 4th quarter of 2021. Some of the States where cargo terminals are to be located include: Kebbi, Katsina, Edo, Ekiti and Abuja. Others are: Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano, Enugu and Calabar. Meanwhile, Kaduna, Kwara and Imo States have also indicated interest. Others are in like manner, encouraged to develop cargo/agro-allied terminals for sustainable economic development.
The establishment of Aerospace University
The establishment of Aerospace University will definitely address the problem of dearth high level management cadre in the aviation industry. Furthermore, it will promote aviation research and development. More importantly, the ACTs shall be brought in conformity with International Standards and best practices in line with ICAO and SARPs. So far, the University has secured Presidential approval and the ministry has commenced discussion with the National University Commission (NUC), for appropriate guidelines/criteria for the establishment of the institution in the nation’s capital, Abuja. It is heart-warming to reveal that the President has already approved land around the NAIA for all the aviation roadmap projects in Abuja. The Ministry is seriously collaborating with the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO for the establishment of the institution. Worthy of mention is the fact that the preliminary activity is at 40 per cent and the concept note has been presented to the NUC for its consideration. The project completion period is 2025.
Nigerian College of Aviation, Zaria
So far, the Nigerian College of Aviation, Zaria, under the leadership of President Buhari has secured seven (7) Standardised Training Packages (STPs) developed in conjunction with the ICAO. They are: ATSEP –Navigation Aids Equipment Maintenance; ATSEP –Pre-on-the-job Training Course; ATSEP Systems Monitoring & Control; ATSEP –Airport Power Systems and Facilities Maintenance; ATSEP –Communication Equipment Maintenance; ATSEP –Data Processing & Automation and ATSEP –Surveillance Equipment Maintenance. All these are developed by the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, NCAT.
Flight Safety Laboratory
The facility is located at the Bureau’s Abuja office. This is where data from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) are downloaded. AIB’s flight safety laboratory has the capacity to download data from majority of the CVR and FDR, and it is now available in the country. Note that the Bureau’s Flight Safety Laboratory, FSL, is the first to be accredited in Africa. It is also, ranked one of the best in the world after the UK AAIB and US NTSB. Indeed, this laboratory has given our dear nation an edge in the investigation of the recent ill-fated NAF203 crash that happened in Kaduna.
As an indication that Nigeria has indeed become a force to reckon with in the aviation world, the Accident Investigation Bureau of Nigeria (AIB-N) was in March 2021, invited by the Sierra Leonean Government to provide technical assistance for the setup of Sierra Leone Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Bureau (SL –AAIIB). This has since commenced. It is the second time in recent years that AIB –N will be assisting member countries in the sub region to establish independent investigation agencies. Similar support has also been extended to The Gambia in establishing its Accident investigation agency, too.
More so, AIB Nigeria mobile app was released in November 2017 to ease the process of reporting air accident and other serious incidents. The tapping into the digital age is meant to enhance public access. With this app, an eyewitness can promptly alert the Bureau on accident and incidents as well as provide coverage (pictures and videos) which can easily be uploaded. This app which is easy to download is now available on the Apple, Android, and Google Play stores.
As a result of resounding and outstanding feats recorded in the sector, under President Buhari, the country had in 2017, 2018 and 2019 received back to back awards from the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO. These are as follow: In 2017, ICAO Global Training Award for Highest number of ICAO accredited courses and highest number of Instructors Training Courses (ITC) in the world. In 2018: ICAO Global Aviation Award for Highest number of ICAO accredited courses and highest number of Institute Training Courses (ITC) in the world and in 2019: ICAO Global Aviation Training Award for the highest Number of Trained Instructors in the world.
In conclusion, this article will like to end with a quote from Shiv Khera: “Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently”.