we are expecting the B737 equipment certification by March or April this year-Modibo, Rector NCAT

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Sometime in July last year, the college through the Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KASUPDA), reclaimed its landed property through the demolition of no fewer than 160 houses, what have you put in place to prevent illegal encroachment in the future?

Captain Alkali Modibo, Rector NCAT interview with The League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) during the Annual Training in the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Excerpts:


This Nigerian College of Aviation Technology is about 58 years old and the college was here before the illegal occupants became the residents of that area and the land allocated to the college is mapped. Now, if you encroach on a land, the government has the right to take it back. We are trying to secure that area by building a perimeter fence to cover those areas that were recovered and we have armed and unarmed security personnel patrolling that area to keep people away from coming back to restart construction of building or farming in the areas.


For those who want to go to the court or are already in the court, it is left for the court to decide on the issue. We have some cases brought to us, which we have forwarded to the Ministry of Aviation. The Ministry has a legal department that is in charge of taking court cases against it or its agencies to the right places.

The Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) will not be the legal department that will be attending the court cases, but we will be there as observers and give some advises and information whenever they are required. So, the matter is going to court, we will not say so much about it. We leave the court to decide.


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 are 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.


How do you think the issue of unemployed pilots and engineers can be resolved to create more jobs for qualified personnel?


I always say college is for experience and knowledge. If we take in students, after certain time, they are delivered to the public as graduates. At the end of the training, some will be pilots, engineers, cabin crew, air traffic controllers and others. When you go out as a fully graduated person with the certificate, you look forward to get a job. The only way to get jobs as a pilot or an engineer is to get more aviation industrialization by having more airlines, ATOs and can also work in the agencies and the ministry as a pilot or an engineer. It is not necessary that you must fly or repair an airplane. You can work in any of the agencies as a pilot.


If you look at Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), is a pilot, the immediate past Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, was a pilot and same applies to Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Organisation (NCAA). Also, the current Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau, Engr. Akin Olateru, is a pilot and several others.

So, jobs are out there, pilots and engineers should not limit themselves to only flying or repairing of aircraft. The aim of every pilot is to fly, but when jobs don’t come, you can work in any of the agencies or the Ministry of Aviation. We look forward to the Federal Government opening more opportunities to aviators. Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, has the love of aviators in his heart and he has been doing great things to ensure that the aviation industry moves to the next level, especially if you have your own national carrier, even though it is not going to be 100 per cent governmental, but that will give room for more employment, more competition with the other airlines.


NCAT recently took delivery of a fire simulator equipment, when will it be put to a use?


The equipment is an automated firefighting simulator, which gives room for simulating incident and accident activities that require fire. The firefighting simulator is undergoing process of certification; we are in stage two of the process and NCAA is responsible for issuing certification for the equipment and it cannot give you the certificate until you are through with all the processes, which we are working hard on to get. As soon as the second phase is completed, the machine would be put to use.


Sir, how come contract for the construction of a fire simulator was awarded without provisions for access roads, power and fire tenders taken into cognisance?


The firefighting tender (E1) we have is one of the best equipment you can find anywhere. It is so big that, that fence and the access road and the culvert are giving more challenges for that machine so be used at that place and NCAT is coming out with another provision of a smaller fire tender, which I know before we put it to use, we will have another fire tender……. Also, the electricity at that part of the college is being worked on. In essence, we are going to take electricity from the completed simulator Boeing 737 aircraft and we will deliver it to the firefighting simulator side. I think we are almost done with that.

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 customers. 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 layed 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 layed 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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