Fhe former Chancellor of the Nigerian College of Aeronautical Technology (NCAT), Zaria, Captain Samuel Caulcrick, has called for a policy to encourage the creation of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities.
He suggested that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) may come up with a policy not to renew the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) for an airline or issue AOC for a future carrier without a plan to establish a local MRO.
daily trust reports that one of the challenges facing Nigerian airlines today is the absence of MROs to carry out scheduled mandatory checks on aircraft as they bleed out with high maintenance costs estimated at over N25bn annually.
The cost would have risen above the high interest rate now around N740/$.
daily trust reports that a complete check of an aircraft costs approximately $1m-$2m (around N700m to N1.3bn at current exchange rates), depending on the extent of the checks, while airlines have an 18-month window to perform a thorough check of an aircraft as required by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
The federal government led by Muhammadu Buhari in its aviation roadmap plans to establish an MRO which has not been achieved in the last seven years.
Captain Caulcrick in a conversation with reporters said that there must be a conducive environment for investors in the MRO project.
To accomplish this, he said: “For example, the NCAA may say that it will not renew an existing AOC or issue an AOC to a potential operator without a local MRO identified on the application form. The government can give them a timetable because this could take up to three years to achieve.”
He said having enough MROs in the country would relieve operators of the pressure to find dollars and other costs of transporting their planes abroad, as well as boost the economy.
The aviator said: “Once a plane is flying in Nigeria, it means that it is our economy that is supporting the flight of the plane. Let’s say now is an hour for an MRO; it means that our economy has supported that business so that the maintenance is ready for it to arrive in the hangar.
“Now, we take the MRO business to foreign countries. It means that we are creating business for those countries when we were the ones that created the business. So it’s better to let it stay within the economy. That is one argument why the MRO supports the economy. So this economy should not lose to other economies after creating that business.
“In addition, MRO supports the naira in the pockets of all of us. Once the plane is out there is the cost of labor that would be paid by the airline.
“Instead of the airlines saving that naira you earned in Nigeria, the airlines go to the foreign exchange market and start looking for dollars. The workforce is no longer local and airlines go to the foreign exchange market for dollars, putting additional pressure on the naira. This affects our economy and the Nigerian market.”