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Local MRO gets approval, targets $1bn capital flight savings yearly

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Efforts to maintain airplanes locally received a boost yesterday, as the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) approved operations of 7Star Hangar in Lagos.

The homegrown Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, with new capacity for different categories of aircraft, could save as much as $1billion expenses that local airlines in Nigeria and West Africa spend on overseas maintenance yearly.

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The 7Star Hangar is the second to receive such approvals for major repairs locally after Aero Contractors’ Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO) recorded a similar feat in 2018.

Besides the capital flight effect, ferrying aircraft overseas during a pandemic and forex liquidity crisis has caused several airplanes to be stranded abroad with attendant capacity constraints in local operations.

The Chief Executive Officer of 7Star Global Hangar, Isaac Balami, said approval of homegrown facilities would address those challenges and plough back the gains into the economy.

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Balami, an aircraft engineer, said about nine years of hard work and investment in local MRO has paid off.

“We are happy today to announce that after over 15 months of the NCAA reviewing our variation and our operational specifications (OpsSpecs) and also expanding our capability list, we have finally finished our phase five which is the last stage in the certification process and we have been granted final approval.

“The huge capital flight in aircraft maintenance we often experience, amounting to over $1billion that is yearly spent in West Africa alone, is going to help to create jobs here in Nigeria,” he said.

On the maintenance specification, Balami said the organisation could carry out operations as permitted by the NCAA, which include Augusta 139 helicopters, EC 155, Learjet 45, Cessna aircraft, Bombardier DHC-8 100/200/300, DHC-8 400, Challenger 601/604/605, Hawker Siddeley, Bell 429, Embraer 135/145, Embraer 600/650 and Boeing 737-300/400/500.

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“That means a lot of job creation for the aviation industry and we are happy. Aside from about 10 expatriates through whom we have to transfer technology and train our engineers on a few areas that we are not yet strong at, we already have about 68 local engineers that have the manufacturers’ type-course on those aircraft.

“They are experienced, they are current and most of them with at least 20-30 years of experience working on these aircraft and working across the globe. So we have one of the best teams on the ground. I can tell you that your aircraft is safe with 7 Star Global Hangar”.

7Star Hangar currently occupies about 45,000 square meters of land in Lagos airport, a facility leased from the Nigerian Air Force Investment, partly from AMCON, and Arik airline, out of which 25,000 square metres the firm is currently operating on now. The firm has also secured an additional 20,000 square metres from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in Lagos.

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