The crash of an Augusta Helicopter belonging to the Nigerian Navy and the frequency of air mishaps have prompted a hurricane of questions over the safety of Nigerian airspace and adequate manpower in the sector as well as other areas.
There is a shortage of core aviation personnel with only ageing local manpower such as the pilots, licensed aircraft engineers and licensed avionics engineers. This situation has negative effects on a sector that is safety-driven. Since the liquidation of the former national carrier, Nigeria Airways, many of the trained and experienced workers have either died or retired, leaving a few that are now threatened out of existence by the influx of their foreign counterparts.
Capt. Dele Ore, President of Aviation Round Table (ART), said there was the need to provide aviation training facilities such as more flying schools and Aviation Training Organizations (ATO) to cope with ageing manpower and dwindling technical skills.
According to him, the foremost aviation training school in Nigeria, the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, should be upgraded in every possible way to enable it regain its pride of place as Africa’s number one training centre. He said: “The influx of expatriate pilots and engineers has become so worrisome that expatriate quota has become a big issue in the aviation industry.“Its effect in airline economics can better be imagined. Apart from the huge costs to our airlines, it inevitably leads to capital flight because of the dearth of Nigerian professionals.”
Whatever the irregularities are, they are made most manifest when an airline crashes, taking lives of passengers in a crash that could have been avoided. One issue that troubles the minds of many Nigerians is that over 90 per cent of crashes happen on weekends. Could it be said that air traffic controllers under the management of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) do not take airspace regulatory oversight seriously?