AERO CONTRACTORS may just have played itself back into the mainstream as it has initiated application and has been granted approval to handle C-Checks on Boeing 737series along with its maintenance of the Bombardier Turboprop airliner series, boosting the airline’s chances of turning the curb of a disappointing past couple of years.
Nigeria’s oldest airline, Aero Contractors received certification from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to handle C-checks on Boeing B737-300, B737-400 and B737-500 at the airline’s terminal effective from September 12, 2017 thereby domesticating maintenance that is the major bane to almost all domestic airlines in the country
This is a major feat for Aero, and the first by a flag carrier in Nigeria. It would be recalled that Aero had earlier received an AMO certification from the NCAA in 2011 which allowed the airline to carry out third-party maintenance for other airlines.
There are over four airlines that operate the B737-300, 400 and 500 series in Nigeria, excluding neighbouring West African countries.
Commenting on the C-Check approval, the Chief Executive Officer of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi said: “We are proud to receive the certification by NCAA to commence this service for airlines across the West African sub region”.
“This is the first in Nigeria, and West African aviation industry and is a huge boost to our position as a maintenance facility. We are pleased to announce that our hanger has been expanded and all necessary facilities and manpower for the C-check maintenance have been put in place”.
“This is a great relief for Nigerian airlines, as local maintenance of aircraft up to C-check level will bring huge savings in foreign exchange in aircraft overseas maintenance”.
“This will reinforce the strength and quality of our brand. We will continue to offer the most reliable, safe and secure operations, which the airline is renowned for.”
On the cost of the maintenance facility, Sanusi stated that the cost that can be quantified so far is that of the hangar expansion, which is N60million. He stated that the hangar expansion was one of the five phases that the airline had to go through in months to before it was granted approval.
Sanusi who was elated on the achievement told newsmen that presently, a Boeing C-Check out of the country including ferrying cost between N 1.8 to N2 million including also stating that with the commencement of Aero down time can be eliminated and airlines can pay in Naira lessening the impact of forex in the industry.
The Aero boss however appealed to the Federal Government to allow it operate a Free Trade Zone as this will not only allow it get its spares but enable the airline attend to customers all over the region and the world if it gets to that.
“I want to appeal to FG to give Free trade Zone (FTZ) which will allow us import and export tooling without custom problems. And have free access to import tools and spare parts and aircraft. If this becomes FTZ we can bring aircraft from all over the world and carry out maintenance on them,” he surmised.
Manager of the AMO, Engineer James Omiyi who spoke on potential clients stated that the AMO has already been inundated with requests for maintenance but that the airline chooses to start with its own aircraft.
“Before the check approval some Organization approved us to start with theirs (maintenance) but we want to start with ours before the check came we have airlines asking to change engine, flap and some for C-Checks.”
Apart from the AMO which is part of the airline’s orchestrated recovery plan, Captain Sanusi stated that Aero plans to strengthen its charter operations along with other plans in the offing.