The Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) Zaria, has disclosed plans to start training students to fly helicopter even as the college would start this year leading to the award of degrees.
Speaking in an interview on the progress made by the college in the past three years, Captain Chinyere Kalu, rector of the college said training of helicopter pilots would commence as soon as the college takes delivery of a Bell 206 helicopters presently in Lagos. It became necessary to raise capacity in helicopter training because about 80 percent of helicopter pilots used by oil companies for off shore oil rigs in the Niger Delta are foreigners.
Kalu also disclosed 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. “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 incidents, ” she explained.
She also explained that the college’s third hangar would be put into use soon after repairs adding that it would take care of the aircraft instead of ferrying them abroad for maintenance. She said it was extremely expensive and uneconomical to have these aircraft fixed abroad and returned into the country but added that with hangar, repairs would be carried out within the college.
The rector explained that the college was pursuing and processing accreditation for its degree course with the Aviation Accreditation Board International in the United States of America(USA). According to her, 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 stated.
She also made a case for the employment of indigenous pilots stressing that Nigerian pilots understand the terrain and weather of the country and were better trained than their foreign counterparts and appealed to Nigerian airline operators to be patriotic by employing indigenous pilots.
She said the college was striving hard to meet international standards and urged the various state governments to take advantage of the college to sponsor and train their indigenes in aviation courses.