Celebration as Caverton Renews Helicopter Fleet

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For a company operating in a climate most investors see as unfriendly following dwindling oil price and increasing interest rate on borrowings, Caverton Helicopters took delivery of the latest state-of-the-art helicopters to service a new contract and stamp its authority in aviation logistics. The landmark achievement climaxed with a visit to the Nigerian Stock Exchange to close the luncheon that heralded the arrival of the new machines. Funke Olaode who was there reports

The sound and sight of helicopters over Ikeja that sunny afternoon was an indication that something was in the offing as dignitaries from far and near alighted from the mechanical birds at the International Airport in Ikeja. There were business associates, beaming with smiles, shaking hands with one another as they exchanged banters to felicitate with the man of the moment who has done the Nigerian aviation sector proud.
“This man must be a crowd puller,” remarked one of the guests. “The project at hand deserves the attention of oil and gas stakeholders in Nigeria”, said another fellow. “But you know he is a man of vision who doesn’t do his thing in half measure.” Those were the observations of some of the guests.

The road to the newest addition began after a rigorous tender process where Caverton Helicopters Limited was selected as the preferred air transport provider for the NNPC/Chevron Nigeria Limited Joint Venture based in Escravos, Nigeria. To celebrate this feat, Caverton Offshore Support Group led by its chairman, Mr. Remi Makanjuola hosted a formal Business Luncheon at its Executive Flight Facility at Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Ikeja where the fleets of brand new helicopters to be used for the Contract were unveiled, thus, becoming one of the largest operators of BELL products in sub-Saharan Africa.

Among the dignitaries who converged on Ikeja to view the latest addition to Caverton group, were Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru; representative of Chief of Army staff, former Group Managing Director, NNPC, King Edmond Dakoru; Mrs. Yoyin Makanjoula; Dr. Oba Otudeko; MD, Sales, Middle East and Africa, Bell Helicopters, David Sale; Managing Director/CEO, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mr. Oscar Onyema; Director, NNPC/CNL JV, Mr. Monday Ovuede; Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe; representative of Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika; United States Consul General, Mr. John Bray; expatriates partners, Managing director, Caverton Helicopters, Captain Josiah Choms; CEO, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Mr. Bode Makanjuola; Chairman, THISDAY Editorial Board, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, among others.

The new fleet of helicopters includes the state-of-the-art Bell 407 GXP and the industry workhorse Bell 412 EP. The Bell 407GXP incorporates new avionics, an upgraded engine, and new executive interior design options. Fitted with Rolls-Royce M250-C47E/4 dual channel turbine engine, this aircraft delivers exceptional hot and high performance, with efficient fuel economy.
Makanjuola said, “Unveiling Caverton fleet of Helicopters is a feat and a day that Nigeria and Nigerians should be proud of; a day that the aviation industry should be proud of that a Nigerian went to America to acquire 11 helicopters. This is groundbreaking event. Over the past few years, we went through many phases of development as a company in less than favourable circumstances. Nevertheless, we have been able to operate existing contracts successfully, as well as secure a few new contracts.

“The largest and most significant of these new contracts, the NNPC-Chevron Joint Venture Helicopter Services Contract, is of course the reason we are here today to unveil the helicopters that would be used for that activity. We are recording some success in our desire to be a financially strong and sustainable Group that puts all stakeholders at the heart of everything.
“Our safety of record is something we are proud and thankful for, and credit must go to our professionalism at all levels. Given Chevron’s global reputation for safety and quality, it is safe to say that Caverton’s diligent attention to safety, quality and continuous improvement contributed in no small measure to the contract award.
“As a fully indigenous player in the hitherto foreign interest dominated sector, Caverton has confirmed the mantra that Nigerians can excel and do Nigeria proud in all facets of the economy given the opportunity. As we forge on in this venture, we will ensure maximum safety which our company is known for.”
In his address, Dr. Baru said what Caverton did is a milestone and the power of vision of its chairman Makanjuola.

“I have followed the company since inception, since Mr. Makanjuola conceived the idea of going into aviation logistics. I commend him for his foresight and tenacity for putting non-existent entity company to become a conglomerate and now become a global brand. The contribution of Caverton Helicopter’s to aviation cannot be over-emphasised as the company has filled the vacuum. I am proud of the company’s safety even as an indigenous company, it has proved that commitment, tenacity of purpose has helped the oil and gas company through its services. We will continue to support local companies as Caverton continues to raise the bar to become a household name globally,” Baru said.
In his speech, Ovuede said Caverton’s launching of 11 Helicopters marked an expansion of the company in Nigeria, the manifestation of its resilience to ensure that aviation industry became enviable.

Similarly, Sale thanked Caverton for giving his company the opportunity to provide this service to a Nigerian company. According to him, the Bell as a company had been in Nigeria since 1964. “Today we are happy to partner with Caverton. Our plan is to pick and deliver over 800 passengers every day; we will ensure zero accident as we increase our effort to protect our people,” he said.
Commending the group for promoting indigenous contents thereby helping the nation’s economy, Sirika, who was represented by a staff of the Ministry of Aviation said the new addition was like expanding the aviation sector. He reiterated his ministry’s goodwill and promised that whatever assistance the group needed when the need arises, his ministry would not hesitate to be of help.

In the same vain, Wigwe said he felt extremely honoured to be part of success story of Caverton Helicopters. “I am proud to be part of this company from inception and watch it blossom. Before Caverton came in, the sector was dominated by foreign companies but Caverton came in and changed the air space when no one believed that a Nigerian company could have the technical know-how. I am proud to partner with Caverton. We are happy to change the narrative that Nigerians can provide a world class service,” he said.

Adding to the encomiums, Bray applauded Caverton and Bell Helicopters for successfully launching the brand new fleet of helicopters, which he said was a reliable piece of equipment that could withstand any weather and climate, adding, “Not only that, I am happy to see Nigerian engineers being trained. This is a welcome development that would boost human capacity and enlarge the economy.”
Onyema, speaking about the two companies’ the company since their partnership since 2014 said, “I have this belief that the company would become African champion and the event today has confirmed that prophecy. They are already operating outside Nigeria and as it has extended his tentacles across Africa, I want to assure you of the NSE unwavering support as you move the Nigerian aviation industry forward.”
Capt. Choms said despite the challenges of Nigeria’s aviation industry, the company has kept its eyes on the ball and continued to stay ahead.The strength, he said, lies in the passion with which Caverton discharges its service to its clients which was made possible by productive, efficient leadership and employees, while safety has been the watchword of the company. Choms reiterated the company’s rule of zero accident as it continues its excellent service in the Nigerian air space.

In his votes of thanks, CEO, Caverton Offshore Support Group,Bode Makanjuola thanked the board of directors of the company and also extended his appreciation to the employees for weathering the storm to celebrate the laudable achievement. “We are in it together and with the new partners, the company would soar to greater height,”
Less than 24 hours after the epoch-making event, the team again led by Makanjuola visited the headquarters of the Nigerian Stock Exchange where they closed the gong ceremony of the business luncheon.