In this interview with newsgazette.com.ng, rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Capt. Abdulsalami Mohammed speaks on how the institution earned international status, the benefits of the certification, courses offered by the college and stresses the need for the local airline operators to train their staff in aviation management because a lot of technical people running the airlines lack proper training in aviation management. Excerpts
NCAT’s status as Regional Training Centre of Excellence (RTCE)
One of the requirements before you are granted that international status by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), you need to meet certain criteria. This journey was started by NCAT 11years ago when we became a member of the TrainAir Plus. Before you become a member of TrainAir Plus, there are also criteria you need to meet which include access end of training facilities and personnel. The global aviation office sent auditors from ICAO to Zaria to come and assess. They came with their checklist and of course typically there were some gaps and we were given time within which to close those gaps. And we were reassessed and it was determined that we met the requirement to be a member of the TrainAir. The next level was the change in nomenclature; now it is called TrainAir Plus and also that requirement was for the institution to develop a standard training package which we did in 2013 and in 2015. We started the process of getting this RTC status and that required a lot of things, including and not limited to developing extra training packages. At the time NCAT signified interest to go for the RTC that was when the criteria were changed. Now they need the applicant to develop a minimum of three standard training packages and we had to do that and then train…an internal validator…. So with that, NCAT was able to satisfy the requirement of being awarded RTC status.
Benefits of the RCTE status
Being an RTC allows the college to develop training programmes for all the ICAO Annexes. So we can develop trading programmes in aerodromes, air transport, facilitation, environment safety and security, all of them. So, it opens lots of opportunities as we can develop these programmes ourselves. And anytime someone from any part of the world is interested as part of the ICAO TrainAir Plus they can utilise these programmes and NCAT gets to benefit because we get paid anytime someone uses our training programmes. Our instructors have been trained by ICAO and (they) can be invited to conduct training in any part of the world. My deputy had gone to conduct training in Singapore and that goes to show the level of confidence the ICAO has.
NCAT courses, relationship with airlines and collaboration with training institutions
Already NCAT Offers post graduate diploma in aviation management. We have identified the need to have this and anytime we interact with airline owners we stress the need for them to train people in aviation management because we have a lot of technical people who are involved in running airlines or administrative functions but they lack the proper training in aviation management. So we are already conducting these courses and we hope to introduce additional courses in the future. We are also talking to other educational institutions so we can collaborate with some of them both in Nigeria and outside.
Re-fleeting trainer aircraft
Availability and cost of Avgas has been a challenge for any operator of piston engine aircraft. That was why the decision was taken by NCAT management long before I came to replace our Tampico aircraft that use Avgas to the diamond aircraft that uses jet A1. We already have taken delivery of one diamond 42 aircraft. We have more in order; the process is slow because of budgetary allocations and releases. But we discussed this with the house chairman on aviation and she agreed there is need for us to have increased allocations so we can bring in more aircraft instead of one at a time. If we are able to re-fleet within the shortest possible time we will not be facing this challenge of availability and cost of Avgas. We bought some and took delivery of some consignment of Avgas…and we have enough stock to last us quite a while.
Preparing for the challenges ahead
We have the capacity; we have plans to increase that capacity because being an RTC opens a lot of opportunities for NCAT. There will be a lot of training at NCAT and it will improve the requirements that we need to keep this status. We have to keep increasing or improving on our facilities and one of the things we need to meet the criteria is to modernise our classrooms. If you go to our classrooms you will see that they are modernised and standardised to meet ICAO requirements, complete with projectors and interactive boards. What we need to do in anticipation for the increased demand for courses is to build more classrooms, office accommodation and hostel accommodation…in anticipation of our approval. And we made allowances for these in our 2017-18 budgets. We are fully ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of this new status that NCAT has.