The newly acquired equipment calibration aircraft has been estimated to save Nigeria at least N305 million yearly.
The aircraft, a Beechcraft Super King Air 350 (B350) for the calibration of navigational aids at airports nationwide, ends the era of hiring such plane every six months at the cost of N152.5 million ($500,000).
To calibrate are the Instrument Landing System (ILS) that is done twice a year-February and November. Instrument Landing System (ILS) must be calibrated every six months because of the level of accuracy required. The Very High Frequency (VHF) Omni-Directional Range (VOR) is calibrated once in a year, and the radar system is once every three years. If there is repair work on any of the navigational equipment, or total replacement, it has to be calibrated.
The new equipment, however, cost the Federal Government N2.59 billion ($8.5 million).
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while receiving the special-purpose aircraft in Abuja recently, expressed appreciation to the President,, Muhammadu Buhari, saying the country had a lot to gain from the investment.
He explained that the government pays $500,000 every time calibration is being done on the country’s navigational aids.
The minister added that the aircraft would be commercialised and generate revenue from it as this is first of such in West Africa.
A source at the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), said the demand for calibration exercise is huge in Africa and Nigeria has just made an inroad into the supply end of the market.
“More so, that this is the first calibration aircraft owned by government of a West African country. There are other countries to calibrate for in Africa, with the marketing done properly. The aircraft cannot be lying fallow because of the commercial viability in the continent. The market extends to the rest of Africa because of the need,” the source said.
At least, two Nigerians: Capt. Jim Hassan and Capt. Barau Muhammed, have already been type-rated on the aircraft, and have flown it in the United States. The Nigerians are flight instructors at the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria.