Nigeria Pilots to Undergo Recurrent Training at Aviation College, Zaria

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Chinedu Eze

The Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria is a premier institution that has produced technocrats in the aviation industry who have made local and international constribution to aviation development.

Recently aviation journalists attended a one-week training in the institution and also spoke to the Rector of the College, Captain Alkali Modibbo who confirmed that NCAT is an apex aviation training institution certified by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as Approved Training Organisation (ATO).

The College, which was established in 1964, came in the nick of time to provide the defunct national carrier, the Nigeria Airways Limited its skilled manpower. It remains the bedrock of aviation development and growth in Nigeria.
Modibbo noted that there has been significant improvement in the College, which was certified by ICAO as ATO.

“Since this College was certified as Approved Training Organisation we have been having renewals yearly. It is also the Regional Training Centre of Excellence (RTCE) as certified by the International Civil Aviation Oragnisation. The benefit of the certification is that we can increase training activities like the ICAO training courses, conventional courses in the College. In 2021, we had over 50 courses conducted in this College in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are still doing those courses. That will give us more visibility internationally and locally by having the RTCE. You cannot train if you don’t have the reviewer of the ATO. So, these are the benefits of the RTCE and ATO,” the Rector said.

NCAT feeds the aviation industry with skilled manpower, but recently there has been unemployment of these skilled men and women who trained as pilots, engineers, cabin crew and others. Modibbo believes that for more jobs to be created in the sector, air travel should be made robust, whereby more airlines will join the market, which will give rise to employment of more pilots, engineers, schedulers and cabin crew. Also more states are establishing airports, which means that there will be demand for marshallers, air traffic controllers, aviation security and other technical personnel.

“If we take in students, after certain time, they are delivered to the public as graduates. At the end of the training, some will be pilots, engineers, cabin crew, air traffic controllers and others. When you go out as a full graduate with the certificate, you look forward to getting a job. The only way to get jobs as a pilot or an engineer is to encourage the growth of the sector by having more airlines. Some of the trained personnel can also work in the agencies and the Ministry even as a pilot or an engineer. It is not necessary that you must fly or repair an airplane. You can work in any of the agencies as a pilot,” he said.

The Rector also observed, “If you look at Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), is a pilot, the immediate past Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, is a pilot and same applies to Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Also, the current Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau, Akin Olateru, is aeronautical engineer, and several others.”

According to Modibbo, there are jobs out there, so pilots and engineers should not limit themselves to only flying or repairing of aircraft.

He acknowledged that the aim of every pilot is to fly, “but when jobs don’t come, you can work in any of the agencies or the Ministry of Aviation.”

On the future of the institution, Modibbo said that the College is making efforts to conduct more training locally and internationally and intends to get the certification of the automatic rescue firefighting training provider certificate from the NCAA.

He said NCAT is working on the Boeing B737 equipment certification and hopes that by March or April year the school would have the B737 simulator equipment and put it to use.

“You need to have the international accreditation certification before NCAA will now give you its own certification. For an example, you must have the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification and NCAA based on one of those certifications, will now issue you its own certificate,” he explained.

When the College gets all the approval for the B737 stimulator, many pilots type-rated on the aircraft would be training in Zaria, instead of travelling overseas. That would sage the airlines huge costs presently expended on overseas training.

On the training aircraft fleet in the school, Modibbo disclosed that the school has different types of trainer aircraft, which include Diamond, Tampico and Beech Baron 58.

We are looking at getting more Diamond aircraft; seven of the Diamond aircraft were supplied in 2020 and this year, we will be taking delivery of two of the Diamond aircraft – double and single engine. At a given time, you have at least five to six serviceable airplanes. Presently, we have about 20 serviceable aircraft at the college, but whatever we have, are enough to train students at any given time.

“Like I said earlier, we intend to take delivery of more airplanes this year. We will take one in February and another in April. The Diamonds will be about 15 in all. They have advanced cockpit; we have the latest technology that you can find in any machine in it and it uses Jet A1, which is cheaper than the Aviation Gas (AvGas). Aviation gas is not easy to come back, we have to import it into Nigeria and that is what the Tampicos are using.

“It will gladden me to tell you that we are moving another step higher. We are thinking of getting Magnus, which is another airplane that is manufactured in Hungary. We have been to their factory with NCAA and the Ministry of Aviation. We conducted our technical inspection. Sooner or later, we will start to have those machines here,” he said.