Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, will begin the training and type – rating of pilots to fly Boeing 737 aircraft in 2018.
The essential training programme is on the heels of NCAT’s acquisition of B737 simulator that is due to be install in Zaria soon.
It will be recalled that the President of ICAO, Dr. Olumuyiwa Aliu, at the recently concluded World Aviation Forum in Abuja, presented NCAT’s RTCE certificate to the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
Rector of the Institute, Capt. Abdulsalami Mohammed, said works on the 737 simulator has been on for years, but hampered by the forex crisis and partial devaluation of naira in 2016, given the huge fund involved .
Notwithstanding, the institute had made substantial part payment of the training facility ahead of its delivery next year.
Mohammed told reporters that work had commenced on the building that will house the simulator in accordance to the specifics of the manufacturer.
“We have gone far on the project and by God ‘s grace, we hope that by the middle of next year the simulator will start its journey from Canada to Nigeria . The simulator has been built and warehoused already.
“We haven’t complete the payment but we have now made substantial payment of about 70 per cent and so very soon we will have the simulator installed in Zaria.
“When we do that, we will be offering Boeing 737 type -rating as well as recurrent training for the pilots, which is a huge drain on the foreign exchange of the airlines and the country,” he said.
By civil aviation rules, pilots are required to be type -rated and retrained every six months in an aircraft type to have a valid licence to fly such aircraft. B737 aircraft type is the most popular in Nigerian local airspace and therefore, a smart move by NCAT.
Mohammed said: “As you know for commercial operators, pilots will go for the recurrent training every six months, so we hope to capture that market and start having that training done in Zaria.
“When the national carrier does take- off eventually, we hope to partner with the airline and should they be operating Boeing series of aircraft, we have a ready facility that they can use to train.
“We have also made provision in the building for expansion to take additional simulators. The facility is one that can house four simulators.”
Being a regional training centre allows the college to develop training programmes for all the ICAO Annexes, including aerodromes, air transport, facilitation, environment safety and security among others .
According to the rector : “It opens a lot of windows of opportunities as we can develop these programmes ourselves and anytime someone from any part of the world is interested and part of the ICAO TrainAir plus, they can utilise these programmes and NCAT gets to benefit because we get paid anytime someone uses our training programme.
“Also our instructors, because they have been trained and certified by ICAO, they can be invited to conduct training in any part of the world. My deputy here had gone to conduct training in Singapore and that goes to show the level of confidence the ICAO global training office has in NCAT,” Mohammed said.
He said further that the certification had been long in coming in the last 11 years when NCAT became member of the TrainAir as a pre-qualification.
The beauty of the certification, however, is the room for a lot of training programmes at NCAT and “it will improve the requirement that we need to keep this status.
“We have to keep increasing or improving on our facilities and one of the things we need to meet these criteria is to modernise our classrooms to meet ICAO requirement. What we need to do in anticipation for the increased demands for courses is to build more classrooms, offices and hostel. All these we made allowances for in our 2017- 18 budget and we are fully ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of this new status.