The aviation industry got a boost on Tuesday with the arrival of a 12-seater helicopter ordered by the Tropical Arctic Logistics (TAL) Limited.
Daily Sun gathered that the arrival of the new helicopter would precede five others, including two other fixed-wing aircraft.
A small crowd of aviation stakeholders that gathered at the EAN aviation hanger at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos to welcome the helicopter was upbeat that its arrival would further ease air shuttle services and add glamour to the coming electioneering campaigns.
Glittering in the mid-day sun, the helicopter, christened Chinenyeze and marked 5N-BVQ, was flown into the country by Captain Otu Ekpeyong and co-captain, Juwon Sodenke, accompanied by two flight engineers. The quartet landed at the MMA at noon on their way from Denmark with stopovers in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Mauritania and Ghana after six days.
TAL Ltd’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), Prince Yemi Adeniji said: “We didn’t want them to fly across the Sahara Desert because of the challenge of the army of insurgents operating in Mali and other countries in the region.”
While expressing excitement at the helicopter’s arrival, the Chairman of TAL Ltd, (a subsidiary of Baywood Continental Ltd), Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe, explained that the company had been active in aviation, especially in offshore and executive charter services in the past five years.
“It has being a tortuous five years. The helicopter world is a highly technical and specialised area of business. Fighting to get all the paper works and statutory requirements is very tasking. Securing the air operating permit, air operating certificate, applying to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authorities, (NCAA), going for clearance with the DSS and every other thing it takes could be very herculean.
“The moment the helicopter landed, I became very emotional, especially remembering the challenges we have gone through over the past five years.
“Right now, we have one helicopter, an AW 139. We are expecting two more AW 139s and another S 92 for offshore services and executive hire, and a gulf stream before the end of the year. On the whole, we are expecting up to six machines in our fleet.”
He said that there was still a gap in the Nigerian aviation industry. “One of the gaps we have in the industry has to do with safety,” he noted. “But the COO, Prince Yemi Adeniji, remains one respected name in the industry even after he went abroad to work with Bombadier, Gulf Stream and others firms. He has a track record for safety and so do I, having been in the oil and gas industry in the past 28 years.
“The market is huge and the opportunities are immense. We look forward to doing things differently, with the support of our technical partners who are giving us all the safety support.”
He said TAL would stop at nothing to bring in competent Nigerians to ensure that the company expanded its operations in the aviation industry. He assured that the company would always go for people with the requisite experience to ensure that safety was paramount, adding that maintenance culture would not be compromised.
Prince Adeniji said that when the other helicopters arrived, his organisation would be in for stiff competition. “Fortunately, I’m from the world of competition and I believe strongly in competition. The way you handle your customers matters a lot. If you allow your customers to realise that you are there at their service, to please them and care for them, you will go places.
“I was the first African chief engineer at Bristol helicopters before I migrated to the US where I worked as a director at various aviation firms. So I’m not afraid of competition. It is about the services you offer.”
He expressed dismay at the manner some aviation companies treat their customers when it comes to buying tickets, assuring that he was determined to push through the culture of integrity, safety and team work.
Adeniji admitted that there were many challenges militating against start-up firms in the country, admitting that such challenges had killed some airlines in the past. but he was optimistic that his organisation would survive.
“We need a lot of support. We need a lot of incentives. The civil aviation industry needs a lot of support. The aviation agencies are doing their level best, but I think they don’t have enough inspectors to do the job. So, they too need a lot of support for the good of the industry.”
While educating the audience on the natures and differences of helicopters, he said: “The 139 is a moving airplane. We have a rotary wing and fixed wing. The 139 is an offshore machine which features the latest technology. That is why we are concentrating on 139 and S 92.
“We have been offered technical partnership by one of the helicopter manufacturers. We will be operating the machine while they will be supplying us the parts to ensure that we sustain an excellent maintenance programme.”
An aviation stakeholder at the event noted: “With this development, we are expecting more competition. That means a big boost to the local content policy of the government.”