NCAT Lists Benefits of Airlines Involved in Recurrent Training

Chinedu Eze

The Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, Captain Alkali Modibbo, has said airlines will save foreign exchange if they decide to train their pilots at the local training facilities in the college.

Modibbo also said the pilots would save Nigerian airlines the cost of logistics and delays that could be encountered while waiting for training slot overseas.

Pilots are supposed to go for recurrent training every six months and most Nigerian pilots carry out this training overseas at huge cost to the airlines.

Modibbo said it was to save Nigeria carriers the highly sought after foreign exchange that prompted the federal government to acquire and install Boeing B737 stimulator at the College.

He disclosed that although the equipment has been installed but it is waiting for certification from authorised civil aviation agency before it would be put into use.

The Rector also hinted that the College may acquire more simulators for other aircraft types in order to attract pilots type rated in those aircraft, as Nigerian carriers are recently embracing Embraer and Airbus aircraft.

Modibbo who spoke about the installed Boeing B737 simulator, said: “The federal government wanted to retain the foreign exchange in the country, which is a very good thoughts and decision. So, the simulator was purchased and brought to Nigeria. The only place you can put a simulator is an institution and NCAT is the only federal government-owned school and this simulator was purchased by the federal government.”

According to him, there is no flying school in Lagos that is owned by the federal government, adding that the containers containing all the platforms for the aircraft, arrived during the Covid-19 pandemic and despite that, they were able to assembly the simulator aircraft. By the time they finished the fixing the simulator, the certification that the simulator came with from America, had expired, a month after its installation was completed.

Modibbo said immediately after the certification of the simulator, the College would start receiving pilots for recurrent training and assured that the simulator would be put into use before the end of 2023.

The NCAT Rector said that in relation to training ab initio for Private Pilot Licence (PPL) that the school has enough aircraft for that, disclosing that the school has many single and twin-engine aircraft purchased for the training of pilots in the college.

“In fact, we have more than 20 airplanes at the moment used for training. We have 15 TB 9 and five TB 20s. The past regime went into an agreement with Diamond Aircraft Manufacturers. They were going to buy us 20 more airplanes, which is the Diamond type. We have received nine of such airplanes now and we have additional 11 aircraft to go. We presently have two multi-engines, which is Diamond 42 and seven Diamond 40s. The 40s are single engines. With that we have enough airplanes that can be used to train pilots,” Modibbo said.

He added that the major challenge the school is facing currently was paucity of instructors because many of the school’s instructors have left for bigger jobs both locally and overseas.

“The challenge we have now is that we have inadequate instructors because some of them have secured jobs elsewhere. So, the airplanes would be there, but we don’t have enough instructors to handle the training. This is so because of our remuneration. The college is a Federal Government institutions and we are paid through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and the salaries for IPPSS is a government policy, which you can’t unilaterally change. If the Federal Government is not ready to increase salary, there is nothing you can do on your own, but we are trying to see if we can increase allowances for our technical staff, especially the flying instructors, engineering instructors, the air traffic services and control so that we could retain them.

“We have lost more than 20 technical staff in the last five years to other greener pastures. When your salaries and allowances don’t measure up with the other colleagues, then people start to look for better places that they can go.We need more technical staff to train our students. The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) is suffering the same pain as we are experiencing. According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), NAMA is below standards with the air traffic controllers. So, NAMA comes and grabs our air traffic controllers. They air traffic controllers run to NAMA because the salaries and allowances are four times better than what we can offer here,” Modibbo said.

To stop NAMA from recruiting its personnel, he disclosed that the Ministry of Aviation plans to intervene, but expressed the hope that if the College improves on its welfare to workers, they will have incentive to stay and work for the school.

“The Ministry is trying to come in for NAMA and NCAT to ensure that these things are resolved so that they will stop poaching our instructors. The only thing we can do is to first adjust our allowances and salaries. If we do that then we can seek permission to recruit technical staff and instructors, but we have some instructors undergoing training on piloting at the moment. In a year or two, we will be happy with what we have, but we need instructors in the areas of air traffic control service,” he said.

Reiterating the need to have more simulators for pilot training, Modibbo suggested that government should adopt public, private partnership (PPP) in funding and acquisition of more simulators to the school.

“There is need to have some private institutions that we can partner with on simulator equipment training, because there is no way NCAT can buy simulator equipment all over Nigeria. We don’t have the resources to do so. No single investor is ready to spend his money on simulator, but I want to assure you that simulator is the best way to make money without risk because you don’t buy fuel, you don’t check batteries and it doesn’t crash. You only service and maintain the equipment and you make your money,” the Rector said.

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