By Chinelo Obogo

Years after the federal government installed a Boeing 737NG stimulator at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, the equipment which cost N16 billion to purchase still lies fallow at the institution.

At a breakfast meeting hosted by Aviation Round Table in Lagos on Thursday, NCAT’s simulator director, Captain Ambursa Abbas, said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), does not have the capacity to certify the equipment, hence, the inability of the school to effectively utilise it.

Capt. Abbas who was one of the panelists at the breakfast meeting said NCAA’s excuse was that it didn’t have sufficient certification capacity amidst Nigeria’s evolving aircraft fleet. He said the school has received requests to use the equipment from different aviation companies around the world but the lack of certification has hindered its utilisation.

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“We have not had any users of our simulator, however, we have had proposals. We have companies waiting for us. As I speak, we have more than five companies in the Middle East that are waiting for us. But as far as there is no certification, there is nothing we can do. But the NCAA and NCAT have sent people out to get certification,” he said.

Addressing the certification challenges, a former managing director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Capt. Roland Iyayi, suggested leveraging certified 737 pilots for co-optation, while a former Director General of the NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren,  advocated for the hiring of certification experts or enlisting the help of the FAA and EASA if local expertise proves inadequate.

Daily Sun had in August 2023, reported on how the equipment was lying fallow at the institution and in November of the same year, the immediate past rector of the school, Alkali Modibbo, confirmed that the equipment was being underutilised. He confirmed that the stimulator has not been put to use because the NCAA lacks the capacity to certify it but that instructors are undergoing training to that effect.

The Boeing stimulator was initially supposed to be delivered to Nigeria in December 2016 but it didn’t happen because of delay in payments from the Nigerian government. It was eventually delivered in 2020. Most of the domestic airlines in the country have Boeing aircraft and over 30 per cent of the country’s 554 licensed pilots are type-rated on Boeing 737 aircraft series, making the machine very viable.