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Aviation: Shortage of indigenous aeronautical engineers worries operators

A shortage of indigenous type-rated aeronautical engineers in Nigeria’s aviation sector is creating problems for operators who lament the huge foreign exchange invested to hire and maintain expatriates and the attendant capital flight deficit to the country’s economy.

Josiah Choms, Managing Director of Caverton Helicopters and Chiyere Totti, Manager Aircraft Registration and Air Worthiness at Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) who spoke in Lagos recently said there was the need for the industry to make fresh investments in the hiring and training of young Nigerian engineers with the requisite skills to carry fix mechanical and engineering flaws in aircraft in-country rather than in foreign maintenance hangers.

The local content law which mandates such training in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry is also being enforced in the aviation sector and both Choms and Totti stressed the need for airline operators to look in-country first before going offshore to hire aeronautical engineers.

“There is a shortfall in the pool of type-rated engineers in the country,” lamented Choms, who also announced that Caverton Helicopters had recently invested massive funds in the training of about 15 Nigerians as helicopter engineers by Reh Helicopters Limited of United Kingdom.

“We have to invest in training indigenous staff so that we do not have to spend scare foreign exchange recruiting staff from all over the world. In this way we build indigenous capacity and also stem capital flight from Nigeria,” Choms added.

According to the Chairman of Caverton Helicopters, Mr. Adeniyi Makanjuola, investments in the manpower training of aeronautical engineers was part of the key requirement or essence of the Nigerian government local content law.

“By collaborating with renowned training providers to deliver in-country training and having the oversight of the NCAA, Caverton has demonstrated that it is an innovative company that can adequately adapt the business to meet changes in the operating environment,” Makanjuola said.

“We are proud to say that we are contributing to the pool of training of indigenous workforce for the benefit of the company, the aviation sector, and the Nigerian economy,” he added.

Totti, who spoke at a reception for the new AW139 type-rated helicopter engineers in Lagos said most air accidents could be clearly avoided in situations where competent engineers are hired and trained to issue the mandatory airworthiness certificates for aircraft prior to their take-offs.

One of the fresh engineers, Joel Alabi commended Caverton Helicopters for the huge investment on their training saying the addition of manpower capability to the industry would go a long way in stemming the problem of capital flight as well as assisting the government realise its local content law aspirations.

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