By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Nigeria is set to commence the local assemblage of aircrafts at its College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, located in Kaduna State, North West Nigeria.
The country’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the sum of N2.3bn for the take-off of the project on Wednesday.
“I am happy to announce today is the reality; we will indeed assemble the Magnus aircraft and will continue to do so and not too distant future by God’s grace, the industry of civil aviation will begin to manufacture right here in the country,” the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced on after the first FEC meeting in 2023 presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He continued, “But we are beginning by assembling these training aircraft and it will happen very soon.
“So, the memorandum has been passed in council; the manufacturer of the aeroplane is based in Hungary.
“And the total contract sum is N2.3 billion; the completion period is 18 months.’’
Sirika said the assemblage of the Magnus Centennial Aircraft, which will come alongside training, is a major first step towards making Nigeria an aircraft manufacturing hub.
Highlighting on the training component, Sirika said despite the civil aviation industry stopping the spin and spin recovery training programme, the need for such training had arisen again, as it enables students to identify when they get into the spin situation, and how to recover.
“We were all trained like that as pilots; but because airplanes become more and more technologically advanced, the need for a spin and spin recovery didn’t arise, because they are becoming more and more sophisticated.
“But again, the world realised that we still get into spin or there is a need for this skill to be developed for recovery out of a spin situation.
“So, most of the manufacturers stopped producing trainers for that purpose; and so there are not many people now that do that manufacture”, he said.
According to the Minister, the aircraft company, Messrs Magnus, realised the gap and started to produce aeroplanes that can get into a spin and out of it so that students can be trained on that.
The plane he said will be useful especially to the country’s Armed Forces because of its aerobatic feature.
“So this aeroplane is fully aerobatic, goes into aerobatics; and I think the Nigerian Air Force and the Air Force around the region will be interested and excited by this development, we are taking the lead in civil aviation.
“We intend to produce them here, assemble them here in policy when in the future, you know, sell them out to where we’re interested around the world”, he said.
He also attached a timeline within which to achieve the first locally assembled aircraft in Nigeria, saying it will happen before the May 29, 2023 expiration date of the current administration.
According to the Minister, “So this will happen and I think the first one or two aircraft will happen here in Nigeria and to fly them within the remaining four months that we have as a government.
“So it is another item that is ticked on our plate, and to which we remain grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari and his government.”