MRO hangar at Uyo Airport

The Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at Uyo Airport, Akwa Ibom, is nearing its completion. On request of the State Government, the Federal Government pledged support for the project, and the facility will become a national hangar. However, a nice and large hangar does not necessarily mean that the technical knowledge and man power will be available to run the facility and provide high-quality maintenance services. Who will become responsible for operating the facility and provide maintenance services? Will domestic and foreign airlines be interested in using the facility? Recently, the NCAA stated that there is a need for a major maintenance hangar at Lagos. The major airlines, Arik Air and Aero, already have their own facilities in place, while new hangars have been built at Lagos for private and corporate jet owners, which already harbour a number of Approved Maintenance Organisations (AMO). For unknown reasons, the authorities are reluctant to allow the construction of private hangars at Abuja Airport, meaning that all but the presidential jets are always exposed to outside weather conditions.

MRO hangar at Uyo Airport, with Akwa Ibom State's G450 parked in front

MRO hangar at Uyo Airport, with Akwa Ibom State’s G450 parked in front

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20 responses to “MRO hangar at Uyo Airport”

  1. LAF says :

    In 8 years (2005, Q4) since hearing about and following this project, the plans to develop tech education system in tandem to feed and sustain manpower still appears to be trailing by good deal.

    It would have been nice if AK built this into an integrated plan from the onset. The last thing they want is an empty hangar not fulfilling its purpose for x years before finally coming on line. Unless they source manpower externally, but then at higher cost than could have been the case. Don/t also forget the complex supply chain side of things with spares, tools and other materials.

    A fully capable MRO facility at Lagos is an ancient plan and should be a no-brainer. Too bad it didn’t materialize with Nigeria Airways still around, making the country miss out on what should have been the natural development sequence. Oh well, resetting and correcting past glitches continues. Hard work but again, a surmountable challenge.

    • Alaba says :

      Well.. said…written LAF.

    • Eric says :

      I believe the Akwa Ibom state goverment sent a couple of people in batches from 2009 and up till 2012 (last I checked) to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University to be trained. Lots of them have since completed their course and returned to Nigeria waiting for the hanger to be complete and the MRO to begin.

    • Chris Pam says :

      LAF made very valid comments on the future of the hangar project at Uyo. Incidentally what he considers as a minus for the hangar, in my opinion should be a plus for the successful operation of the MRO in the long run. Hiring manpower from abroad certainly will cost much but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. For instance:

      – I see that the foriegn manpower will provide the confidence and goodwill most airlines need to commence aircraft servicing in Nigeria.

      – The death of the Nigerian Airways, as LAF righty observed, created a gulf in experienced aircraft engineers and technicians that the foreigners will come in to fill before Nigeria develops her required manpower. Even if the training component was incorporated in the inital plans to commence as the project started, it would not be possible to produce quality control engineers for D-checks on a complex aircraft like the 747 in 8 years, for example. So the foreign component of the manpower would still suffice.

      – The difference in cost of foreign manpower may not be as scary as imagined considering that the aviation industry abroad is also facing some depression with companies retrenching or closing outrighty. This makes a negotiated salary that is fair possible and one can guess that this must have been factored-in in the feasibility studies for the MRO in Uyo.

      – An increase in total cost of mainaining an aircraft in Nigeria resulting from just higher salaries of foreign manpower could be more than equally compensated by cost of fying the plane abroad and the losses that could acrue from higher aircraft down time. It therefore makes economic sense for airlines to maintain their fleet in Nigeria. Remember the target is, first the Nigerian and West African markets which are still virgins, and then compete in the other African and international markets.

      Most MROs in third world countries still have external manpower components, that should not be a challenge in Uyo if the Nigerian factor is elliminated.

      Chris

      • LAF says :

        Thanks for the insightful comments.
        The MRO capabilitiy question remains ver relevant and is one well beyond an aviation challenge alone.

        In the time that’s transpired since this post, we continue to witness the increasie in growth without comensurate increase in MRO capacity.
        Indeed, A lot more was lost with the stoppage of Nigeria Airways than was bargained for, not in the least in engineering manpower.

        It’s understood that a number of Nigeria Airways tech employees who went to Aero and other airlines are all but retiring around now and that without adequate supply of new replacements from the likes of NCAT not able to meet the demand at present.

        A major challenge still faced is the vocational techical education sector. This affects aviation as much as several other sectors. This very vital segment has virtually not developed very much or perhaps even fallen well behind over the decades as the education system has focused largely on the top white collar end of the tertiary spectrum, leaving the quality of skilled tech very much behind. This has naturally driven most outfits to look outward and hire in tech which tend to come at a much higher price.

        Fortunately, growing the local tech base won’t require a century to catch up but will definitely take a good number of years. With aviation growth prospects projected over the coming years, the opportunities look very good indeed.

      • Chris Pam says :

        This was a balanced response from LAF and I cannot but agree with most of your comments. Let me add again that the shortfall in aviation engineers may have been most noticeable at some period of our aviation’s history due to unproportionate rise in aviation business, especially in the 80, 90s up to year 2000 compared to the supply of aviation technical manpower. Very few parents could afford the fee in the limited slots at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Zaria not to talk of sponsorship in oversees institutions. To make matters worse, the support received from ICAO dwindled to catastrophic levels and training at NCAT was most unattractive for airlines. They needed ready made engineers which was not available locally. This is why the situation would not have been that bad for MRO Uyo if the new airlines had invested in training like the Nigeria Airways did.

        Not all of the Airways engineers went through NCAT anyway. Some were engineering graduates trained in fields like Non Destructive Inspection and licensed accordingly. This raised the quality and quantity of aviation Engineers. Such areas constitute critical points to an MRO’s survival. Various workshops and test benches in some Approved maintenance facilities in Nigeria are suffering technical lack as a result of the gradual exit of such former Airways Engineers who benefitted from this strategy.

        But hope is not lost. The approval by The Nigeria Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) to run one year post graduate courses for degree and HND holders and another approval by NCAA to run six months courses for aviation licensing is a welcome development. The Institute also offers HND in aviation technology courses for holders of ND in mechanical and electrical engineering. There are other aviation related courses in the Institute. The Institute went further to sign an MoU with Cranfield University in the UK to train the AFIT postgraduate students in various fields of Air Vehicle Design (AVD). As at today many Nigeran students have graduated with masters degrees from that institution and no fewer than seven with Doctorate degrees in various aviation fields. All these will help bridge the gap in the demand and supply for quality aviation manpower.

        Aviation training is relatively expensive, best undertaken by organizations. The Uyo MRO could therefore plan it’s training well by keying into courses of AFIT for a sustained business and future nigerinazation of their MRO. Even at that, the foreign manpower component cannot be delt away with in the short or medium term as it is my considered opinion that at such times an element of foreign technical input is essential for any MRO in Nigeria.

  2. Alaba says :

    Gauging by the number of planes abroad for respraying, a hanger that also serves as a paint shop should be a starter….

    • LAF says :

      That’s known as de-Lashaimzation :-).

      Some interio refitting and basic airframe work ould be added on, as well as wheels, brakes, and oh yeah, oxygen tank refilling :-)

    • LAF says :

      Thanks a lot. After these courses,do the MX students undergo supplementary training there to get the various B and C licences.
      Another idea could be to setup MRO courses as a tag-on to specialization at the better tech colleges to supplement NCAT’s existing programs.

  3. pilot okulu says :

    Good news for the airport… Hope to hear that it is completed soon.

  4. Greg says :

    In Kenya, where the wildlife/game reserve industry gave them a GA sector that’s streets ahead of most of the continent (do we have one?), there is an “aviation technology” class at their senior secondary schools, and the certificate issued on graduation, evidently, is honoured by the teeming GA operators of that country.

    Let someone post images of Nairobi’s Wilson airport. To some of our folks, it could be an American airfield

  5. Dr. Airplane says :

    We plan a training mission to Nigeria in the near future. Our plan consists of local aircraft instruction for both degree engineers and uncertified technicians in both the classroom and on the aircraft. The technicians will be instructed for a FAA A&P license, NDI, and IA certifications. Some instruction will required to be onsite in the USA. All of this is in support of a MRO in Nigeria. Is there any interest from any NG States? Sorry I am not at liberty to disclose our client’s location at this time.

    • LA says :

      It may be best to get in touch with the Nigerian CAA and NCAT and the Nigerian airlines. Do your training also enable qualification equivalent to JAA EASA and JAR standards?

      • LA says :

        Also perhaps check with the various existing tech ops to get a better impression of the current MRO training landscape in Nigeria.

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