Although it lacks the capacity to provide aircraft maintenance services to all the airlines in the country, the Aero Contractors aircraft Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) is serving the maintenance needs of some carriers and is helping these carriers to save millions of dollars that would have been used for offshore repairs. The facility offers some of the most complex repairs like the C-check.
Nigeria spends a whopping $2.5 billion annually conducting C-checks and other levels of aircraft maintenance overseas.
With the lockdown last year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic which led to the closure of borders, restrictions of movement by many countries of the world, and stay at home order to minimize the spread of the virus, aircraft maintenance facilities across the world were affected thus home-based maintenance facilities for many airlines became a necessity for Nigeria airlines to continue operations and ensure safety.
The issue of sourcing foreign exchange was also an issue as those who decided to fly out their airplanes for MRO work could not access foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Speaking on the MRO facility, the Managing Director, Aero Contractors, Captain Abdullahi Mahmood says, patronage by domestic carriers is very encouraging, using Aero MRO for their maintenance without paying in hard currencies saves the local airlines a huge amount of money.
He said, with the requisite manpower, space, and the needed spares, work had been going on smoothly, adding that five Ethiopian expatriates have been engaged with their Nigerian counterparts to do the job. “If we have certified engineers that will sign the NG we don’t need to bring them but we don’t have them, none of Aero engineer not a single one that is a certified NG engineer and we want to get the certification to do our AMO under our AMO we need those engineers”.
The Aero boss said the engagement of the Ethiopians is intended to assist Nigerian engineers studying them with a view to acquiring the knowledge of attaining some level of being able to maintain the NG’s, new-generation aircraft. He revealed that engineers in Aero were not qualified yet to sign off an NG aircraft, adding that with these expatriates, the engineers would be able to acquire the knowledge, number of hours, and take charge.
“The only thing our engineers need is the logging, if they bring an NG to do maintenance, the Ethiopians will sign off the aircraft our Nigerians are working with them so they are logging the hours, they need a certain number of hours to work on a particular aircraft before they sign off that is the regulation but because they have not worked on any NG aircraft so they don’t have those logging, it is not that they are not qualified to do it but they don’t have the number of time”.
Apart from helping the airlines, Capt. Mahmood said, without the MRO at this crucial time of the pandemic, the cost of running its own airline, Aero contractors to stay afloat would have been unbearable.