In this interview with MUMINI ABDULKAREEM and MATTHEW DENIS, the Rector of International Aviation College (IAC) Ilorin, Capt. Benedict Adeyileka speaks on the false allegations concerning purported sale of accidented aircrafts, claims of unprofessional conduct in the running of the college and other sundry issues.
There is an allegation that the management of the college sold accidented aircraft that cost the college over N70 million for a give- away price of N5m among other unhealthy dealings, what’s your reaction to this?
The fact is that two aircraft were involved in a crash at different periods without casualty. The first one did not record life loss and it became an insurance issue. So, the college wrote to claim compensation from the insurance company and probably because it wasn’t economical for them to repair the aircraft, they paid the college money. This was what I met in the record for both aircraft. Technically, once the insurance company has paid you off, the property doesn’t belong to you any longer. But, what I think happened in this case is that because of the location of the aircraft, it was probably very expensive for the insurance company to remove the aircraft. Secondly, it became probably impossible to remove them because one of the aircraft lost its wings, so they couldn’t fly it out. For them to even take it out they have to put it in a flying mood. So as far as this college’s book is concern the value of that aircraft is zero. Now, from the record, the aircraft was sold to a company not individual. It was sold for N5 million approved by the college’s board and the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed. I met this in the record. So, the way I look at it, the college has gained N5 million from the transaction, instead of allowing the aircraft to rot away because one of them is still out there now untouched. I don’t know what type of negotiation that was involved between the accessor and the insurance company, but we are happy that the company bought carcass of the aircraft. The college benefitted from the insurance compensation and the company that paid for the aircraft. The value of the aircraft was zero because insurance has written it off.
Which company purchased the aircraft?
The company is known as Kingshood Limited. This same information is available with the state government because there was approval before the transaction was carried out. So, it wasn’t a shoddy deal and neither done in secret. These things happened during the tenure of my predecessor. On my part, I was to ensure re-certification of the college and it was done successfully. We even went beyond the re-certification which is renewal of the ATU and that was done last month. If you notice our aircraft flies daily including Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays and we have a team of dedicated staff committed to moving the college to greater heights.
The management of the college has also been accused of not following due process in most of its dealings, how true is this?
I’ll challenge any person to come out with evidence. For everything that I’m saying now I have evidence to back it up. So, since I resumed here everything that we do go through due process. If there is need for us to go to the state House of Assembly for resolutions or the state executive, we do so. We have a board that was formed by the state government and I report to the board and I am a member. So, everything that we do have the board’s resolution, the day to day running of the college is part of my job description from the state and from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Talking about insurance, before your resumption as the Rector the college has about eight aircraft and it was learnt that the insurance policy of some of them have expired. Can you tell us how many of these aircraft are currently insured?
Aircraft is not like vehicle that you can just drive without insurance. No pilot will fly an aircraft without the current certificate of the NCAA irrespective of whether it belongs to the State Government or the Federal Government. Aircraft cannot be flown without the current certificate of airworthiness endorsed by NCAA and without insurance, radio and all the papers. As soon as the insurance is due you have to park the aircraft even if it is a brand new one. So, whenever the college cannot afford to pay for the insurance we park the aircraft. And that was the situation I met here, all the aircraft at the time I resumed didn’t have insurance. Some of them didn’t have the certificate of airworthiness and we tried to bring them back into the air. To answer your question, now we have three aircraft serviceable, sound and fully insured with certificate of airworthiness. The rest of the aircraft are not serviceable, the other three needs engine and we need propellers and tyres.
We also learnt that student-pilots of both the Commercial Pilot License (CPL) and Private Pilot License (PPL) courses end up spending about four years instead of nine months as a result of aircraft shortage for training?
There are some requirements to fly aircraft. There must be good weather, good aircraft with instructor and licensed aircraft and the students must have current license. However, the flying hour of the instructor is limited as well as that of the student. What we do is once the aircraft goes and come back, we change the instructor and student provided that the aircraft maintenance hours and endurance and insurance are current and it’s serviceable. It will continue to fly; there is no limitation as to how many hours an aircraft can fly in a day but there is limitation on how many hours the pilot can fly. Since I started here in August, we have graduated students and now we have an external instructor coming to check our students now. It is another instructor that will come to check the student for safety and another instructor again will come to check the students finally. So each student has at least three different checks.
What can you say pertaining to the issue of the two helicopters at the college?
The two helicopters/choppers are part of the joint venture between the Nigeria Navy and the college. The Nigeria Navy and IAC came together to run helicopter training in the college. So, on their own part, they donated the aircraft and the college provided the instructors and training for the students. They also donated a simulator. The money realised is controlled by the joint venture and use for running of the helicopter training. Currently, the two helicopters are not airworthy; one of them is serviceable but not airworthy.
How relevant is the college in the Nigerian aviation sector considering the fact that the Air Force has stopped patronizing the institution for training?
Nigeria Air Force stopped bringing their students for training when the college was in trouble but they have started consulting us again. They have started making enquiries. We have done our marketing; going out to woo patronage. We have gone to the Air Force and to intimate them that we have gotten new instructors and engineers and our aircraft are flying and they know that. We have also gone to the Navy and Army and we told them the same thing. We have 10 Army and six Navy students here. The welfare of the students has improved drastically. Now we have about 24 hours electricity supply for the students. I have personally ensured that every room has a fan and a television. Every classroom has electronic projectors, we have computerised based training. You cannot compare our college with the Nigeria College Aviation of Technology, Zaria. So this place has potentials, we are sitting on a goldmine, we don’t have issues with security and no issue with kidnapping, no herdsmen, no Boko Haram, Ilorin is a very peaceful environment. We have had two crashes without loss of lives. I personally don’t have the capacity to singlehandedly build this place up. It is teamwork and I cannot really claim glory for the achievements. To be honest with you there are still certain things to put up to kick start this place such as buying engines and other things to fix those three aircraft that are still not serviceable.
So how many courses is the college offering now?
For now, we have the flying school and we want to stabilize it first and then continue with flight dispatcher course. We have proposal to start an engineering college, we want to bring cabin crew school and a lot of courses that we want to have in affiliation with the Kwara State University, Malete, so that we can graduate our pilots with degree. But we need money to stabilize, to buy four engines and propeller. We have hours building, people what to build on their hours and we have executive training where we offer to people who only come to learn how to fly and go.
Considering your experience as former DG NCAA, it is clear that most pilots after graduating do not secure jobs in the country. What’s your advice?
I think one of the issues apart from the airline is financial capability. Once we graduate our pilots here and they are recruited by the airline, they need to be retrained to fit into the system and training these pilots requires enough money because some of them have high quality insurance. That’s why we are doing the hours building now, you can come back after qualification to build your hours because the more you fly the more you have experience. I don’t know whether the Federal Government can come in and give airlines incentive to train these pilots. The government can assist in that aspect to encourage airline to employ all these young pilots. There are a lot of things the government can do.
Is there consideration for the local people here since the training is expensive?
Training of pilots is very expensive all over the world. I have told that there is no electricity supply here and the college has been providing 24 hours power supply for the students. We have been on diesel for long time now. Despite the fact that aviation training abroad is more expensive, parents still send their children there for training.