How aviation college spent N5bn to maintain chopper – Rector

Bisola David
Bisola David
How aviation college spent N5bn to maintain chopper - Rector

The Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, has revealed that it spent N5 billion on the upkeep of two superfluous helicopters over a ten-year period.

According to The Punch, the rector of NCAT, Captain Akali Modibo, revealed this while answering questions from the media at the recently concluded Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition, which was held in Abuja.

He said the cost of maintaining those helicopters, which were ultimately sold at auction by the Federal Government, was N500 million per year.

He refuted the recent rumours that the College’s two helicopters were missing by pointing out that planes don’t go missing; rather, they take off and land.

“The Federal Government purchased the two helicopters roughly 12 to 13 years ago, under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Although it was bought with the intention of training pilots, those helicopters cannot be used for a pilot’s basic training. Additionally, the college provides basic education.

“At the college, we have never given anyone helicopter training. Most likely, the previous administration did not consult NCAT before deciding to do so when it intended to buy helicopters for its agencies.”

Modibo claimed that in addition to buying two Bell 206 helicopters for NCAT, the government also bought 10 helicopters for the Nigeria Police, the Nigeria Customs Service, and other organizations.

“The Ministry of Aviation consequently made the decision to sell the helicopters and swap them out for piston-powered helicopters. Only through auction, which is the authorized method for selling government property, can you sell it and receive your money back,” he said.

“Since we don’t use the two aircraft for training or generating income, we have spent around N5 billion maintaining them over the past ten years.

“The college loses money since the helicopters need to be in working order constantly. None of the two helicopters managed to fly for 40 hours over the course of the 12 to 13-year span.”

He further said that after NCAT management spoke with the ministry, the minister gave his approval for the helicopter sales.

He revealed that although the helicopters were ultimately sold at auction for roughly $600,000 each, they hadn’t yet been replaced since the proper procedures needed to be followed.

“Getting new airplanes is not a procedure that you can turn on and off. You should start sending letters to various government organizations. Before you purchase the piston engine aircraft, the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development will write to the Ministry of Finance for clearance and processes, which will take some time.

“With that money, we could have purchased two Robinson R44 and two R22 helicopters, but I am confident that the Federal Government will only want to sanction one R44 and one R22 due to our current foreign exchange problem. The R44  has four seats and the R22 has two seats for training,” he explained.

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