Aircraft maintenance facility
Air Forces in different African countries spend billions of dollars ferrying military aircraft to overseas maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities in Europe and the US every year and the same goes for civil airplanes both for commercial and private operators.
At a meeting in Johannesburg on Monday, African Air Force chiefs therefore called for governments in the region to facilitate the establishment of top MRO facility in the continent, believing that having such maintenance institution in the region will save the continent huge resources that are presently wasted overseas.
This becomes crucial, according to various speakers at the first African Aviation Defence and Aircraft Maintenance conference organised by African aviation Services Limited, as the continent is torn by crisis and difference countries in the region are reviewing upwards their military hardware, especially in the Air Force.
Conscious of internecine and international threats to peace in the region and beyond, the Air Force chiefs and their Police Air Wings counterparts foresee a future where they would play more crucial roles in peace keeping, maritime patrol, airborne surveillance, relief work and humanitarian assistance to the United Nations.
The security chiefs and aviation experts observed that due to the unfavourable global economic climate and other factors, many governments in Africa, like elsewhere, are no longer able to provide their Air Forces and Police Air Wings with adequate funding to enable them to expand and meet the fast- growing security challenges and perform the nation building duties required in today’s world.
In his opening address, the Chief Executive Officer, African Aviation Services Limited, Nick Fadugba, said: “We believe that African Air Forces and Police Air Wings should also place increased emphasis on military aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), aviation training and air safety to enhance their efficiency and reduce their current high attrition rate.”
Fadugba also noted that it was essential that Africa Air Force and Police Air Wing aircraft are adequately maintained to ensure military aviation safety on the continent.
He, however, stated that much had been achieved in the African air transport industry, but regretted that challenges still remained
“Air transport safety, security, efficiency and affordability, all need to be improved significantly. It is encouraging to note, therefore, all coordinated measures are underway in Africa to help achieve these important goals”.
According to him, “African Air Forces are increasingly being required to assist the United Nations and other international organizations in providing vital air services in relief programmes and peace missions throughout Africa. Hence, the need for a well maintained military aircraft fleet in Africa which can respond quickly and efficiently to these emergencies.”
In his contribution, Managing Director, Aeronautical Engineering Technical Services Limited (AETSL), Nigerian Air Force, Air Marshal Alikali Mohammed Mamu, stated that cooperation between African Air Forces was necessary to improve their capabilities, personnel readiness and ability to respond to multiple challenges, including regional security.
“We believe that international military aircraft manufacturers, aviation maintenance and training organisations, partners and service providers both within and outside Africa have a crucial role to play in helping to modernise and maintain African Air Forces and Police Air Wings”.
Mamu said Nigerian Air Force had saved over $3 million (over N450 million) by servicing its aircraft in the country, rather than ferrying the airplanes abroad for maintenance, adding that with highly qualified personnel, it had been able to carry out some levels of maintenance checks on some of the military aircraft types but needed to expand its facilities for higher levels of maintenance checks on bigger military airplanes.