The Rector, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology NCAT Zaria, Captain Mrs
Chinyere Kalu says Helicopter training and Degree programmes will commence at the college this year.
Speaking in an interview on the transformation of the college in the past three years, Capt Kalu said training of helicopter pilots will commence as soon as the college takes delivery of its acquired Bell 206 helicopters presently in Lagos.
According to her, it became necessary to introduce helicopter training as 80 percent of helicopter pilots were foreigners being used for off shore oil rigs in the Niger Delta.
“Its a very sensitive area and key in our economy and should be well secured. Having such operations done by foreigners, you will agree with me that its not in the best interest of our nation”. “If Nigerians are in the forefront in taking over fix wings, I don’t see the reason why rotary wings should be left in the hands of foreigners especially the sensitive nature
of it. We are very hopeful that it will commence this year, we are at the final stage and we will need a smaller helicopters to start”
Capt. kalu also announced that the college was embarking on refleeting of all its training aircraft in the college as the current ones were old and becoming increasingly difficult to maintain by the college.
“We have 23 aircraft and we need more, we are in the process of refleeting because the single engine aircraft we have been flying are being depleted by the day due to age and incidencies”
The NCAT boss explained that the college third hangar will be put into use soon after repairs adding that it will take care of the aircraft instead of ferrying them abroad.
She said it was extremely expensive and uneconomical to have these aircraft fixed abroad and returned into the country but added that with such hangar, repairs will be carried out.
Also,with over 500 students in the college, Capt Kalu explained that the college will commence its HND programmes which wiil increase the students number to about a thousand including those on short courses, three, six and twelve months.
The Rector explained that the college was pursuing and processing accreditation for its degree course with the Aviation Accreditation Board International in the USA.
According to Capt Kalu, the college intends to offer courses on aerospace engineering.”We want to offer Degree course along with flying, despatchers course, aviation management and so on. So there are a lot of courses we would want to offer beyond what we are offering now and also in line with aviation training”
She said more instructors will be employed as soon as the courses commenced.
On the perceived shortage of pilots and engineers in the country, the NCAT boss remarked that the country has produced a lot of jobless pilots and engineers in the country but accused airline operators of going for expatrates at the detriment of trained Nigerian pilots and engineers.
According to her, Nigerian pilots understand the terrain and weather of the country and are better trained than their foreign counterparts.She appealed to Nigerian operators to be patriotic by employing indigenous pilots.
“My disappointment and discouragement is the fact that our Nigerian businessmen and operators are not patronising home grown pilots and engineers. They will rather employ a fresh horn with 200 hours from the USA or anywhere instead of employing our own home grown well trained pilots who may even have up to 250 or 300 hours”
Capt Kalu also disclosed that the installation of the colleges runway lights will be completed in two weeks time adding that it will be of immense benefit for both the students for night training and for visitors to land at night
She said the college was striving hard to meet international standard with the introduction of new innovations in the college.
According to her, IATA in 2012, declared NCAT as the best training institution in Africa while ECOWAS in 2013 declared the college as centre of excellence adding that NCAT will soon be made one stop shop for aviation training.
She expressed disappointment that state governments failed to take advantage of the college to train their indigenes and appealed to various state governments to sponsor their indigenes to be trained in the college and commended the Kano state government for approving the training of 45 cabin crew students at the college.
Capt Kalu announced that the Lagos campus of the college will take off as soon as issues on the establishment was resolved. “By now we ought to have had a campus in Lagos but at the last minute we had a little hitch which made us to slow down but we are pursuing it”
The Rector commended the aviation minister Stella Oduah forseight in the transformation of the industry.