Dana Air has decorated two newly promoted captains and three senior first officers at a ceremony held at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2.
While Kalu Sylvester and Ibrahim Kazeem were decorated as captains, Ilesanmi Ayotunde, Afolabi Damilola and Lawal Wahab were made flight officers.
Speaking at the event, Dana’s director of flight operations, Capt. Segun Omole said the airline trained 27 Nigerian pilots in 2017 adding that 17 co-pilots, 16 captains and nine first flight officers were undergoing training.
Omole who enjoined the pilots to fly safely and legally in line with the tenets of the profession said the new officers were like fresh university graduates and stressed the need for “catching them young.”
“This is just the beginning, the tenets of our operations is to fly the aircraft safely and legally. If it is not legal then it is not safe and if it is not safe it is not legal.”
“When our aircraft first came we had to use a foreign crew because not many Nigerians were trained on the MD-83s. We knew that we would have to transit to local crew and from 20 per cent Nigerian crew working in Dana, we can now boast of a 90 per cent crew.
“There are some risks in training but Dana continues to train. We still have some more pilots in training and maybe in a few months from now we may have more decorations.
Most of our pilots are trained locally in Ilorin or at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT); some were trained in South Africa and the UK.
“In flight operations department, we have continued to bring new ones from the graduate school. When you catch them young, you can mold them.
“We want all our pilots to come in as first officers, grow with us and move to become captains. We will still employ captains from outside in the future but it will be the last resort,” he said.
On the training and employment of female pilots, Omole said the airline was open to signing them on.
“There is one already on training. I have found that female pilots are more manageable. There are many female pilots and we will bring them in. the ones who attended interview were hired but we lost them to other airlines,” he added.
Responding on behalf of the pilots, Kalu expressed appreciation to the airline and pledged that he and his colleagues would do their utmost to maintain the airline’s standard.
“We will do our best as ambassadors of Dana Air. We will fly as safe as we can,” he added.