Paucity of funds, FX scarcity ground $1b pilot trainer equipment in Ilorin
State govt pledges commitment to college
At least three trainer airplanes worth $1 billion have been grounded at the International Aviation College (IAC), Ilorin, Kwara State, over paucity of funds and foreign exchange liquidity crisis.
The equipment joined the IAC fleet as brand new a couple of years ago, at the estimated cost of $350 million each.
Officials confirmed that the state-owned aviation college has six Diamond aircraft in active service for budding pilots, availability of foreign exchange would revive the grounded aircraft to life and boost available training resources.
The under-utilised capacity, as evident during a tour of the college, yesterday, attests to the growing effects of foreign exchange crisis in aviation in particular, and the economy in general.
Kwara State Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Dr. Afeez Alabi, at the opening of a training programme for aviation journalists at the college, said the government had given the college the attention it deserves.
Alabi said the aviation industry is capital intensive but “as a responsible government, the state has placed an order for more equipment for the school”.
He said: “What we have found in Nigeria today (as an aviation industry) is not impressive. It is not where we are supposed to be. But I thank the operators for doing a great job. As a college, the government has done a lot to improve its status. We have placed an order for more equipment and will continue to do more.”
The Commissioner added that the state government had taken aviation as pivotal to the development of the state. According to him, 50 per cent of the new orders had arrived at the college, assuring that the school would witness new growth in the New Year.
It was learnt that the state government recently placed an order for Diamond 40 aircraft engine and propeller aircraft, which are already at the college’s hangar. The government also purchased 10,000 litres of Jet A1 for the college, while it renovated its fuel dump.
Alabi said: “This is a sector that should be a booster to the economy of the country. We all need to form a synergy that will take this sector to where it should be. We have the continuity of government in Kwara State. Before the end of this year, there will be some positive news about this college,” he assured.
Director-General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, reiterated that the aviation industry is dynamic and to keep abreast of latest developments, innovation and trends in the sector, there was the need for continued human capacity development by all players.
He lauded the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) for the concerted and consistent efforts at providing robust reportage and professional coverage of every development in the industry, which he said had aided the growth and development of the aviation industry in Nigeria.
He added: “We, at the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, consider training (including initial, on-the-job and recurrent training) as a key component of aviation development in Nigeria. In fact, training and retraining, can be likened to a capital project as it is critical to our operations as the apex regulatory Authority for Civil Aviation.
“The authority’s personnel are exposed to appropriate training all over the world to enhance and maintain their skills and competence. On the other hand, you will all agree with me that it is a statement of facts, that the media is critical to the growth of global aviation in general and Nigeria in particular.”
He appealed to journalists, especially LAAC members, to eschew sensationalism that is capable of putting the aviation sector in bad light and impacting negatively on democracy.
Earlier, Acting Rector of IAC, Capt. Okatayi Yakubu, said the training for aviation journalists was timely, especially at a time the industry is witnessing a rash of activities and growth.