NCAT targets gasoline planes
About three years after its purchase and installation, state-of-the-art firefighting simulation equipment is still idling at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, Kaduna State.
Although it has since been mounted in the institution’s fire training section, its continued lack of props, hydrant, and standard access road has kept the automated simulator’s revenue down from 5.4 billion naira redundant.
In April 2019, the federal government acquired the firefighting simulator manufactured by MM. Alpine Metal Technology Company, UK, priced at £11.5 million.
The simulator, the first of its type in Africa, is a modern multi-scenario firefighting equipment capable of providing training on 28 different types of fire and non-fire operational incidents involving aircraft, at the airfield and its surroundings. The complete aircraft-sized equipment was acquired to improve safety, reduce capital theft from overseas training firefighters, and earn revenue by rendering services to foreigners.
But a visit to the institution recently showed that it is still inactive, although the equipment, its control room and its supply circuits are ready.
Deputy Chief Fire Instructor Sarki Jacob said the Federal Government has made the right investment with the ability to earn several million naira a year from training and retraining firefighters.
Jacob noted that equipment is expected in the second phase of the project and has begun to arrive to complete the dynamic installation.
NCAT Rector, Captain Alkali Moddibo added that the delay in use was not unrelated to the mandatory requirement for its certification and provision of accessories.
Moddibo explained that the simulator is undergoing the second stage of its certification by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“The NCAA cannot give you the certificate until you complete all the processes, which we are working hard on. As soon as the second phase was completed, the machine would be put into operation.
“The firefighting tender (E1) we have is some of the best equipment you can find anywhere. But it is so big that the fence, access road and culvert are challenges for this machine to use in this place (firefighting simulator section). The NCAT provides another provision for a small fire tender to use the fire simulator.
“Additionally, power to this part of the college is being worked on with funds approved in phases. Essentially, we’re going to take the electricity from the completed Boeing 737 aircraft building and supply the same to the side of the firefighting simulator. I think we’re almost done with that,” Moddibo said.
The rector added that the college of excellence is seeing a general facelift in the area of infrastructure, with more training aircraft expected in 2022.
Currently, the institute has 20 aircraft of different brands like Diamonds, Tampicos and Beech Baron 58.
“We are looking at getting more Diamond aircraft. Seven of the Diamond aircraft were delivered in 2020. This year we will take delivery of two of the Diamond aircraft, both twin and single engine.
“Right now, we have about 20 working aircraft at the college, and there are enough of us to train students at any time. As I said earlier, we intend to take delivery of more planes this year. We will take one in February and another in April. The diamonds will be around 15 in all.
“They (Diamonds) are advanced cockpits. We have the latest technology you can find in any machine and it uses Jet A1 which is cheaper than Aviation Gas (AvGas). Aviation gas is not easy to find. We have to import it to Nigeria and that’s what the Tampicos use.
Moddibo further said that aviation authorities and NCAT have taken steps to acquire Magnus aircraft powered by Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as gasoline.
“The advantages of this machine are: first, it is carbon fiber, very light and uses PMS, like the one you use in your car. So from AvGas we went down to Jet A1 and we go also at the PMS. It will be less expensive to use this aircraft.
“Something unique about this plane is that it has its own parachute. If you lose the (only) engine, there is a parachute that you will pull out and the engine will come out and the pilot can land the plane with this parachute. With that you saved a life and the equipment,” Moddibo said.