Civil Aviation in Nigeria: 10 Buhari Administration Highlights

Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika was the Special Guest at last week’s #StateHouseBriefing (Thursday, July 8, 2021)

Highlights of what he shared as follows:

1. Nigeria no longer has to send aircraft Cockpit Voice Recorders and Flight Data Recorders (“Black Box”) abroad for downloading and analysis. President Buhari approved funds for the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to build a world-class Flight Safety Laboratory (FSL) in Abuja, and train personnel to run it.

The Nigerian FSL is the first to be accredited in Africa, and is ranked as one of the best in the world. Now most, if not all, accident investigations can be done and are being done in Nigeria. Not only that, Nigeria is now assisting other African countries, like Gambia, Sao Tome, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde, with accident investigations.

2017: Ghana, Gambia, others to use Nigeria’s AIB laboratory

June 2021: Nigeria Helps Sierra Leone To Establish Accident Investigation Agency

2. The 4 main International Airports — Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt — will be concessioned, and “no job losses will happen”, according to the Minister.

Like the kick-off of the new National Carrier (see below), this is scheduled to be completed in 2022. RfQs should go out this month (July 2021). (Note that even in a Concession Scenario, Government agencies will still continue to provide services — industry regulation, Security, Fire Cover, Air Traffic Control and so on; so the fears of public sector job losses are overblown).

b. On May 17, 2021, President Buhari approved the designation of the 4 major International Airports in the country as Special Economic Zones.

3. President Buhari approved, under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) prepared by a Committee chaired by Vice President Osinbajo, 22 Billion Naira as Bailout package for the Aviation Sector.

First tranche of 5 Billion Naira has since been released, and it was shared amongst airlines (7 scheduled operators received 2.84 billion Naira, and 20 non-scheduled operators received 949 million Naira), etc. The balance went to Ground handling Companies, the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, Airport Car Hire Association of Nigeria, In-flight Catering Services Operators, and Aviation Fuel Operators.

4. When the defunct Nigeria Airways was liquidated in 2003, the outstanding pensions of its workers were not paid, until President Buhari assumed office and began to prioritise it, and approve and release funds for the payments:

5. The Enugu International Airport Runway that the Buhari Administration inherited was on the verge of collapse. According to the Minister, among other defects it had a giant crater on it, that airport staff would fill (with gravel and bitumen) before and after flights took off. In 2019 President Buhari approved a special fund of 10 Billion Naira for the reconstruction of the Runway. It was completed and reopened in August 2020, and is now, according to Minister Sirika, “one of the best Airport Runways in Africa today.”

b. The Abuja International Airport Runway was also reconstructed in 2017, for the first time since the Airport was built in the early 1980s.

6. Significant infrastructural upgrades at various Airports nationwide:

  • Cat-3 ILS/DME (ILS = Instrument Landing System; DME = Distance Measuring Equipment) installed in Lagos and Abuja Airports in 2019 — which allows planes to land in zero visibility. Installation in progress in 3 more Airports

7. The Buhari Administration inherited the construction of 4 new International Airport Terminals from the preceding administration. There were several problematic design and construction issues, relating to sewage, power and water systems in some of the projects, which meant a redesign and fixing of these failures.

Today Port Harcourt, Abuja and Kano new International Terminal Buildings have been completed and are now in use. Lagos Terminal Building has also been completed, but there’s some outstanding work for which the President has recently approved a final 10.8 Billion Naira payment.

8. The Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria, has undergone a transformation under President Buhari. A new Boeing 737 Full Flight Simulator has been installed in the College, as well as a Fully-Automated Fire and Smoke Aircraft Training Simulator. Prior to the installation of the Fire and Smoke Simulator, Nigeria was sending personnel to Cameroon for the relevant training.

b. NCAT has also acquired 7 brand new Training Planes (1 multi-engine and 6 single-engine) that use Jet A1 fuel; to replace the old training planes that were expensive to maintain, and also used AvGas, which is not as readily available as Jet A1 fuel. The reduction in maintenance costs through the acquisition of new planes has reduced training cost by about 30 percent.

c. NCAT has developed seven standardized training packages (STPs) in collaboration with ICAO; and has has won several awards in recent years, a testament to how much things have changed: ICAO Global Training Award for Highest Number of Delivered Training Courses and Highest Number of Trained Instructors in 2017, Highest Number of Trained Instructors in 2018, and ICAO Global Training Award for Highest Number of Trained Instructors in the world in 2019.

In 2017 the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) granted NCAT a ‘Regional Centre of Excellence (RCE)’ status

9. The National Carrier: Project Development Phase has been concluded, with the development of an Outline Business Case (OBC) by the Ministry and the issuance of an OBC Compliance Certificate by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

The Memo went to FEC for approval in 2018, and was sent back for some more work/clarification. It will now be represented for approval this month (July 2021). When approved, the next phase will be the issuance of a Request for Qualification (RfQ) in local and international media. The target commencement date for operations is Q3 2022.

b. The Federal Government will own no more than 5 percent of the planned new National Carrier.

10. Other important things to note:

  • The procurement processes for the establishment of an Aviation Leasing Company in Nigeria, a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Center, and the development of Aerotropolis (Airport Cities) in Lagos and Abuja are all ongoing, for completion in 2022, according to the project timelines.

- Establishment of a National Carrier

- Development of Agro-Allied / Cargo Terminals

- Concessioning of the Airports

- Establishment of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Center

- Establishment of an Aviation Leasing Company

- Development of Aerotropolis (Airport Cities)

- Establishment of an Aerospace University

- Designation of 4 International Airports as Special Economic Zones

- Upgrade of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to a Multi-modal Accident Investigation Agency to be known as the National Transport Accident Investigation Board

- Upgrade of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) into an ICAO Regional Training Center of Excellence


Finally, an example of the kind of random info I like to keep in my head: Currently there are 427 aircraft registered in Nigeria, according to the NCAA.



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