From the maintenance of its aircraft in-house, the Federal Government has saved over $800,000 (N228 million) as Nigeria’s flag carrier airline, Aero Contractor, said it handled the repairs of its two Boeing 737- 500 by deploying its facilities. Besides, the airline, which is at the verge of stabilisation, has equally extended its technical capacity to other airlines. Disclosing this to New Telegraph at the weekend, the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said that the in-house maintenance of its aircraft saved the airline over 60 per cent of the cost of doing same maintenance overseas. Aero’s first successful Ccheck on a Boeing 737-500 aircraft late last year has become a game changer for the aviation industry.
The development will save local carriers at least N9.2 billion from the N36 billion operators spend yearly taking their airplanes overseas. The slash (N305 million per aircraft) offers a lifeline to struggling airlines. And with repairs done locally and paid for in naira, pressure would be eased off foreign exchange. A C-check is a complex exercise that strips an airplane bare for detailed inspection of most of its parts and lasts three to eight weeks. Commercial planes are mandated to undergo the procedure every 18 months.
The absence of a functional Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in the country, at least in the last 17 years, was responsible for between N14.3 and N28.6 billion being spent by local airlines on yearly repairs overseas. Speaking on efforts to bring back six of the airline’s grounded aircraft, the airline chief disclosed that there were six airplanes owned by the carrier.
His words: “We have managed to bring back two. We managed to get rid of two of them. We had a meeting today with Jeraco to finalise the last two. We have three aircraft; two are operational, one is under C-check. One is coming in from France in the next four weeks. “I believe that towards May, we shall have four aeroplanes fully functional. We are going to bring them back into the country.
We will condition them and ferry them back into the country. We have three aircraft; two are operational, one will be operational in the next three weeks and one is under C-check now and one is coming in from France in the next three, four weeks. We should have four aircraft operational, three Boeing and one Q3- 400,” he added. Asked if venturing into MRO won’t be a distraction to the carrier, Sanusi stated that it was not, describing it as it is complimentary.
“Why I said so is this. I have an airplane that needs maintenance and I have maintenance organisation. That was what I was saying at the conference. Because I have built my infrastructure based on the maintenance organisation not based on number of aircraft, so, I would have a lot of staff that would be redundant if the airplane is only one or two. But if I now put them to work for third parties, they would make money and they are kept in employment, meaning that my airplane would be serviced all the time.
It is actually complimentary and not distraction.” Sanusi stated that Nigeria would be saving a lot of foreign exchange, time and creating jobs by repairing their equipment in the country, stressing that it would also help by contributing to the economy. “I just gave 70 Nigerians jobs. Next week or next month, by the time we now solidify six C-checks that we know that will happen in a year, I will give 40 more work to people. If I know that in the entire year am going to have 12 C-Checks, I can take up to 120 engineers and they work 24/7. That means I am creating jobs to people and contributing to the economy of the nation,” he added.
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