To end flight cancellations during the harmattan season, which occurs largely in December and January every year, the federal government has confirmed that it has procured equipment that would enable airlines to land and take off during the unfavourable weather condition.
Last year, airlines projected N13 billion losses during the harmattan period, which coincided with the yuletide season, the busiest season for flights every year in Nigeria.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, when he inaugurated brand new training aircraft for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria to enhance pilot training at the college.
Sirika said the new equipment is being installed in the major airports in the country through the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), which installs and manages landing aids.
He said when the equipment is fully installed flight delays and cancellation at the height of the harmattan season would become a thing of the past and suffering and frustration of passengers during the period would come to an end, as airlines would now operate profitably and benefit from the busiest season of the year.
“We are dealing with poor visibility, which is mainly due to harmattan haze. We have procured equipment that will be able to improve on our operations in such a way that you can land in reduced visibility. Soon, most of our airports should be able to accommodate flights coming in with reduced visibility.”
Sirika who was a product of the college, commended the management of the school for religiously implementing the policy of the federal government on industry manpower development and noted that with the acquisition of the trainer aircraft, NCAT would be able to produce students who are familiar with the commercial aircraft piloting.
Also speaking, the Rector of NCAT, Capt. Abdulsalami Muhammed, said apart from the delivery of one Diamond aircraft DA42NG, 19 others would also be procured by the college for training purposes.
At present, NCAT has 29 trainer aircraft, which he said are old with an average of 15 years.
He explained that the management intended to procure five multi-engine DA42 and 15 single-engine DA-40 trainers aircraft within a short period of time while the old aircraft would be phased out, explaining that the old equipment use aviation gasoline, which is difficult to procure while the new ones use aviation fuel that is common in the country.
“The new aircraft we are acquiring will significantly improve our flight training experience in the area of maintenance and fuel. The aircraft are equipped with glass cockpit and garmin 1000, which will make it easier for our graduating pilots to transition to new generation commercial aircraft.
“NCAT is among the very few aviation institutions in the world and the only one in Africa that conducts comprehensive aviation training by having all the core aviation professional fields on a single campus,” he said.