Modibbo attributes benefits of certification to more visibility internationally and locally Trainings

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Captain, Alkali Mahmud Modibbo Girei, Rector, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Zaria (NCAT), Kaduna State recently in an interview with The League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) during their Annual Training 2022: Excerpts


Rector sir, about three years ago, NCAT was upgrade into a regional training centre of excellence (RTCE), while NCAA indorsed it as an Approved Training Organisation (ATO), what has changed in the institution since the upgrade and the approval?


This is an Approved Training Organisation (ATO) and we have been

having renewals yearly and the Regional Training Centre of Excellence (RTCE) is a certification by the International Civil Aviation Oragnisation (ICAO). The benefits of this certification is that we can increase training activities like the ICAO training courses, conventional courses in the college. In 2021, we had over 50 courses conducted in this college in spite of the Cocid-19 pandemic and we are still doing those courses. That will give us more visibility internationally and locally by having the RTCE. You cannot train if you don’t have the reviewer of the ATO. So, these are the benefits of the RTCE and ATO.


The year 2022 is still new, what are your priorities for NCAT in 2022?


We are going to try as much as possible to conduct more training locally and internationally and we intend to get the certification of the automatic rescue firefighting training provider certificate from the NCAA, which I told you about. Also, we are working on the B737 equipment certification. It is taking us longer than we intended, but we will trying all our best to ensure that by March this year or April, we will have the B737 simulator equipment and put it to use.  You need to have the international accredit certification before NCAA will now give you its own certification. For an example, you must have the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or EASA certification and NCAA based on one of those certifications, will now issue you its own certificate.

We are looking for to be an Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO) we started last year, but we put it on hold and we intend to continue. Hopefully, we will get the AMO certification this year.


NCAT about three years ago commenced off-campus Post-Graduate Degree (PGD) programme in Lagos and Abuja, what is your assessment of the programme since you commenced?


The course was intended to be a year course in Zaria as a full-time, but requests from a lot of quarters, stakeholders and others, wanted it to be done at their doorsteps. We considered two places; Lagos and Abuja. So far, we are doing very well with the post-graduate courses.  The courses started in 2013 in Zaria, but was extended to Lagos in 2019. Initially, when you look the number of participants, you will be discouraged, but I can tell you right now, we have more than 100 participants. In Abuja, we have about 38 students and in Lagos, we had 100, but we lost one of them. So, there are 99 participants in Lagos. The programme is growing daily and people are applying and seeking for a way to get admission into the programme. The programmme is tailored to suit your way of life. Most of those who participate in the programmes are workers, aviators who work in different establishments in the sector, but they still find time to participate to take part in the programme. If you miss a module, you can always take it later. We are doing very well with the programmes.


To what extent do you intend to harness partnerships under your watch to move NCAT forward?


No man is an Island. Partnership is our second name; we will always partner with organisations in order to move forward. International African Association for Approved Training Organisations (AAATO), we are a full member of that association and other international associations. Also, we partner with all the agencies under the ministry, military, paramilitary organisations and others, we partner with them and we also send our people to these organisations to be trained on some of their technologies.

Even, with the airlines, we work hand in hand; we as a training institution, we cannot be on our hand. Every airline and organization that has anything to do with aviation, they come here and get trained. We also send out people out to get more knowledge and information.


On partnership with the agencies, they are our number one customer. Some of those courses they were sending their staff to do outside the country, are now being done here at NCAT. There are courses we run for NAMA and NAMA is our number one client. They are always here year in year out. Also, NCAA, and FAAN come here for one training or the other.


Since you were appointed the Rector of NCAT, what has been your major challenge running an institution like NCAT?


Life is never straight; it composes of ups and downs; nothing is straight forward in life. We do have challenges here, but the most pressing issue here just like somewhere else is fund. The funds are not sufficient for our day-to-day running and the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is also inadequate. So, we try to see if we can get more IGRs to carry out our mandates and expend them on our facilities and hostels.


I must apologise on behalf of the college the conditions of the hostels if these hostels. I went out myself and I see the state of some of the rooms. I called the Minister of Aviation myself and I said to him that the room he stayed when he was doing his engineering; the same building, room and toilet are still in existence. Some are 30 years old, but we are working hard to ensure that we renovate the ones that we can and then build new ones.


There is an executive hostel near the rector’s house, a contract has been given and the contractor is working to complete the hostel, which will be a very good one to our students when they come for training. Also, the contract to renovate the AA Hostel has been approved by the ministry. So, we will start working on it. We are going to make sure you have more standard rooms whereby when you come, you will love the place.


Also, I must tell you that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved 150 new hostel rooms in the budget and another one will be coming in the next budget, which is for 100 rooms. So, we are working towards getting good and better accommodation for all our students.

How has the insecurity in the North and Covid-19 pandemic impacted your operations?


The issue of insecurity is a nationwide issue  and I am sure that that there is no nation, community and an environment, which doesn’t face this challenge. The country is going through some challenges, which governments at all levels are working hard to address the situation. At NCAT, we have formidable security equipment and gadgets, which are installed everywhere. If you walk into this college, someone is seeing you going and coming. We have advanced security gadgets in every nook and cranny of this college for 365 days a year.


Also, we have armed policemen, civil defence officers and we have our own internal security personnel who help them to ensure total security is maintained. However, people that want to commit havoc are not sleeping and we also are not sleeping. We will continue to improve on our security discretion and day-to-day arrangement.


On the issue of Covid-19, it is a pandemic and we have been coping with it by following the protocols laid down by the Federal Government, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the World Health Organisation (W.H.O). Although, we know that we have very limited cases of Covid-19, but Nigeria and other countries have been mandated to make sure it follows all the protocols laid down. We cannot take it as a guarantee and let loose our guards. We have to keep on obeying the protocols until the pandemic is over. Even with the protocols, there are a limited number of students you can have in a class at a go, but I want to tell you that we are doing very well with that.


How many trainer aircraft do you have at the moment and which fuel are you using for them now?


So far, we have Diamonds, Tampicos and Beech Baron 58. We are looking at getting more Diamond aircraft; seven of the Diamond aircraft were supplied in 2020 and this year, we will be taking delivery of two of the Diamond aircraft – double and single engine. At a given time, you have at least five to six serviceable airplanes. Presently, we have about 20 serviceable aircraft at the college, but whatever we have, are enough to train students at any given time.


Like I said earlier, we intend to take delivery of more airplanes this year. We will take one in February and another in April. The Diamonds will be about 15 in all. They are advanced cockpit; we have the latest technology that you can find in any machine in it and it uses Jet A1, which is cheaper than the Aviation Gas (AvGas). Aviation gas is not easy to come back, we have to import it into Nigeria and that is what the Tampicos are using.


It will gladden me to tell you that we are moving another step higher.  We are thinking of getting Magnus, which is another airplane that is manufactured in Hungry. We have been to their factory with NCAA and the Ministry of Aviation. We conducted our technical inspection; sooner or later, we will start to have those machines here.


The advantages of that machine are that; one, it is made from carbon fibre, very light and it uses Premium Motoring Spirit (PMS) like the one you use in your car. So, from AvGas, we want down to Jet A1 and we are also going into PMS. It is going to be less expensive to run with that aircraft.


Something unique about that aircraft is that it has a parachute of its own. If you lose an engine, there is a parachute that you will pull and the engine will come out and the pilot will be able to land the aircraft with that parachute. With this, you have saved a life and the equipment. The parachute is there for you in case you lose an engine and the aircraft has only one engine.


How many students do you have from outside the country a NCAT at present?


Presently, we have about six foreign students and now, students from Niamey, Niger are coming to the school very soon. But, it is expensive for students outside Nigeria to enroll in this college. When you want to be a pilot, you will need about $50,000, but for Nigerians, we have serious subsidy for pilots and engineers, but we still encourage foreigners to come also.


How are you addressing the issue of ageing workforce in the institution?


This is why we are here, we keep bringing in younger personnel and it is a continuous process. We keep bringing in younger ones to replace those who are retiring and when you retired, but not tired, we still take you on contract to impact your knowledge and the experience you have on the new generation of instructors.


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