Nigerian carriers to save $48 million yearly as Aero gets maintenance nod

  • To carry out C-Checks on classics
Nigerian airlines could cut its operational costs by over 40 per cent on aircraft maintenance as Nigeria’s oldest airline; Aero Contractors has concluded plans to carry out airplane repairs for interested Nigerian carriers.
Cumulatively, domestic airlines will save over $ 48 million spent on offshore maintenance of 24 Boeing 737 – classics on their fleet courtesy of approval granted to Aerocontractors Airlines by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to carry out C – check maintenance on airplanes at its facilities.
The Managing Director, Aerocontractors of Nigeria, Captain Ado Sanusi disclosed this yesterday.
He said the approval to the airline for its Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO) to carry out major maintenance otherwise known as C – check will save the country million of dollars annually.
Sanusi said with 24 Boeing 737 classic aircraft on the fleet of some Nigerian operators, the new maintenance facility in Aerocontractors will provide succour for operators who spend about $ 1.8 billion every 18 months to ferry their aircraft to different parts of the world for major maintenance. It could even be more depending on the country of maintenance.
Describing the maintenance facility as a major instrument for Aero’s turnaround efforts, Sanusi said other operators in West and Central Africa will benefit from the use of the facility.
He said Aero has signed Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) with  Europe based engineering firm AJ Waters ; South African Technik ; Ethiopian Airlines for pooling of expertise and tools to enable them carry out C- check on many aircraft at the facility in Lagos.
He said Aero has invested over N60 million on the expansion of the hangar to enable it handle comprehensive work on aircraft.
He however, appealed to government to grant the maintenance facility the status of a free trade zone to enable the airline import and export aircraft, tools and spares across the world without customs inhibition.
Sanusi said, “The Aero family is pleased to announce that the NCAA has approved its aircraft maintenance Organisation for C – check on the Boeing 737 Classic. This represents for us a significant achievement and is a major instrument for our turnaround.
“This feat has benefits far beyond Aero. The fact that C – check on the Boeing 737 can now be performed in Nigeria by Aero will reflect directly in significant drop in maintenance costs for airlines in Nigeria and the sub region as well reduction in downtime for such checks. In the present state of foreign exchange difficulties, this is no mean relief. Therefore, this milestone by Aero will benefit the entire Nigerian aviation industry.
“It is important to note that the approval by the NCAA came about after completing a number of checklists items at the hangar as directed by the regulator, including extensive expansion of the hangar space. This approval also adds to existing facilities such as wheel and brakes, battery shop and upholstery. 
“On the whole, we look forward to greater feat as we bravely March out of our present downturn to a future that is set to be even brighter than our past glory.”
He said Aero will consolidate its operations on more routes before the end of the year.
Nigeria has about 350 aircraft in operations (scheduled, charter and privately owned) that are ferried overseas for major repairs resulting in ridiculous capital flights. South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Ethiopia have workable Maintenance Repairs Overhaul (MRO) facilities, as well as airports that operate as hubs.
The process of taking aircraft overseas for repairs, according to aircraft engineers, takes a minimum of two weeks with a corresponding loss of about $1.2m for C-Check on Boeing 737 while Embraer 190 or Fokker 100 would cost $700, 000 during the same period.
Regrettably, many of the Nigerian airlines take their aircraft abroad for repairs at exorbitant financial penalty.
The carriers said at part of its instrument for a quick turnaround, it would engage in C-Check for interested airlines on their B737 Classics.
The various maintenance checks are the ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’. ‘A’ and ‘B’ checks are lighter checks, while ‘C’ and ‘D’ checks are considered heavier checks. ‘C-Check’ is one of the heavy checks that is more extensive than the ‘B-Check’ and requires a large majority of the components to be inspected, during which the aircraft is put out of service and kept in the hangar until the checks are completed.
Unless the Federal Government floats aircraft maintenance facilities, the country and airline operators would continue to lose several billions of naira to ferry their airplanes abroad for maintenance checks.
A former spokesman for Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mohammed Tukur, called for the need for partnership between the government and private investors to establish a local maintenance facility that could save the airlines over 50 per cent of maintenance costs and make Nigeria a technical hub for aircraft maintenance. MRO costs encompass both the outgoing charges and the revenue forgone during the out-of-service time.
Wole Shadare