The Nigerian College of Aviation Technology NCAT), in Zaria, Kaduna State, has been designated a Regional Training Centre (RTC), with capacity to develop training programmes for all International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) Annexes.

Information about the Institution’s new status was disclosed by its Rector, Captain Abdusalami Mohammed while speaking with newsmen in Abuja recently.

According to him, with the new designation, the college can now develop training programmes in Aerodromes, air transport facilitation, environment safety and security, apart from opening a lot of windows of opportunities to train aviation personnel from any part of the globe.

“Now that we are part of ICAO’s TrainAir Plus, it is possible for us to develop these programmes ourselves and anytime someone from any part of the world is interested we can utilise the programmes such that NCAT benefits financially.

“Being an RTC, our instructors, because they have been trained by ICAO, can be invited to conduct training in any part of the world”, he said.

The Rector who revealed that in line with the institution’s new status, gave the instance of his deputy who had gone to conduct training in Singapore, noting that, that goes to show the level of confidence ICAO has in NCAT.

The Rector disclosed that the journey to the attainment of the new status started 11 years ago when NCAT became a member of TrainAir Plus, pointing out that, there were criteria to be met before becoming a regional training centre which include access to training facilities and personnel.

Captain Mohammed explained that the global aviation office, while considering NCAT for the new status, sent auditors from ICAO to Zaria for proper assessment of the facilities available.

“They came with their checklist and expectedly there were some gaps at first and we were given time within which to close these gaps, and we were reassessed and eventually we met the requirement to become a member of the TrainAir,” he added.

 The Rector further disclosed that there has been a change in nomenclature as the project is now called TrainAir Plus requiring the institution to develop a standard training package which was developed in 2013 while in 2015 the process of getting this RTC status commenced and this required a lot of things, including but not limited to developing extra training packages.

 “At the time NCAT signified interest to go for the RTC, that was when the criteria were changed; applicants needed to develop a minimum of three standard training packages and we did that. Also, as we needed to train internal validators, we had to develop another standard training package,” Captain Mohammed emphasised.

 According to him, we have to keep increasing or improving on our facilities and one of the things we need to meet these criteria is to modernise our classrooms.

 “If you go to our classrooms now you will see that they are modernised and standardised to meet ICAO requirements complete with projectors and interactive boards. What we need to do in anticipation for the increased demands for courses is to build more classrooms, office and hostel accommodation in anticipation of our approval,” the Rector explained.

In line with this, therefore, Captain Mohammed disclosed that provisions had been made in the 2017-18 budget in order to fully meet the challenges and opportunities of this new status that NCAT has attained in recent times.

He noted that already NCAT offers Postgraduate Diploma in Aviation Management to meet the needs of airline operators who need to train technical personnel in aviation management to run airlines and perform administrative functions at the same time so that our indigenous carriers will be efficiently and profitably managed in the nearest future.

Continuing, he said apart from expanding its capacity, NCAT is already seeking collaboration with local and foreign institutions in order to achieve its objective a first choice aviation training facility not only in the country but in the world.

Captain Mohammed also revealed that NCAT had embarked on re-fleeting with a view to replacing its Tampico training aircraft with Diamond 42 aircraft.

This he said had become necessary due to the problems of the dearth and high cost of Av gas used by Tampico aircraft, a piston aircraft popular among operators in the country.

 “Availability and cost of Avgas have posed challenges for any operator of piston engine aircraft, hence NCAT’s management decision long before I came to replace our Tampico aircraft that use Avgas to the Diamond aircraft that operates on Jet A1,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, NCAT has taken delivery of one Diamond 42 aircraft and there are more orders; though the process is slow due to fund paucity but discussions are on with the House of Representatives Committee Chairman on the need to increase allocations to the institution in view of its new status and the re-fleeting exercise.