ENGINEERS under the aegis of Nigerian Society of Engineers, have identified that the absence of a well-articulated local content law and its implementation as part of the reason there is lack of traction in the aviation sub-sector in Nigeria, and have called for shift from this to move the industry.
They made this known at the 2019 Public lecture and Annual General meeting of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Aeronautical Division on the theme “Local Content Development in the aviation industry” where they reiterated concern for the state of the aviation industry in Nigeria, adding that the enactment of local content law would enhance the development of the aviation industry.
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika represented by Nigeria’s Representative to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Engineer Ben Tukur stressed that although the aforementioned was the case, a drastic change was coming with the drive towards getting things done for Nigerians by Nigeria.
He said, “Today most of our aviation service provision are done outside the country. These are things like aircraft maintenance, D checks which is only done by aero contractors, spare parts and even calibration of our navigational aids. But I am happy to tell you that some of these things are coming to an end. Recently, Nigeria acquired an aircraft that is solely for the purpose of calibration and very soon we will be providing that services to other African countries.
“For many years we used to train our Aviation Fire Fighting and Rescue Service (AFFRS) in Cameroon outside the country, but we realized it would be better because we have the capacity here and so we have procured the latest firefighting simulator for the training of our own and others if need be. There are also other trainings we have domesticated to create capacity for our own.
A former Director General of NCAA, Harold Demuren also advocated the position of building manpower in the sector to boost local capacity stating that the action of training can lead to local content development.
Demuren who was represented by Engr. Emmanuel Osifo said, “It is unequivocal that continuous training of the manpower across board including pilots, engineers, air traffic controllers, flight dispatchers and cabin crew will enhance the adequacy of manpower in the Nigerian aviation industry which will eventually lead to the export of such skilled manpower in other African countries. Self-sufficiency aircraft maintenance capability can lead to local content development in the areas of aircraft and parts design manufacturing in Nigeria”.
General Manager, Air Operators Certification and Surveillance, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Engr. Godwin Balang called on government critically examine the success story of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act of 2010 emphasizing the need for enactment of local content development law in the aviation industry.
He said, “I think the lack of local content development law for aviation is the heart of why there appears to be lack of traction in the development of local content in the aviation industry despite over 90 years of aviation hands on experience. Today most of the aviation service providers depends on other countries for the provision of critical functions/ resources including heavy aircraft maintenance, calibration/spare parts for navigational aids, periodic simulator training for pilots, construction of airports, periodic simulator training for pilots, construction of airports and so on.
“Let us be more deliberate in the local content development in Nigeria by first passing a law similar to the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act of 2010 for aviation. In implementation of such law, safety and quality must not be compromised and therefore where the country lacks expertise, encourage foreign expertise and investment with clear requirements for technology transfer from the foreign experts to the locals.
On Jet A1, some participants agreed that importation of aviation fuel into country was not encouraging local content and that local production of Jet fuel was vital for this to happen.
Dr. Demuren who spoke earlier said, “Another area where we urgently need local content development is the production of aviation fuel. In the past, aviation fuel was provided in Nigeria but now we import aviation fuel. To achieve the laudable objective of local content development in the aviation industry in Nigeria, vital roles must be played by the regulator, service providers, airport operators, airlines, ground handling companies amongst others” he opined.
Also, Managing Director of Centurion Security and Safety Consults, Group captain John Ojikutu also noted that the establishment of a refinery for aviation fuel as well as the employment of jobless pilots would be a right direction towards improving local content in the industry.
“Because fuel is imported, it cost a lot but we can reduce the cost of fuel if we are making it inside this country. If we look around and employ trained Nigerian pilots that do not have jobs, it will reduce the foreign content and add to the local content. Speaking on spare parts, we can also start manufacturing aircraft tyres in the country. There was a time we were manufacturing vehicle tyres. We should have advanced to manufacturing aircraft tyres” he said.