World renowned aircraft engine manufacturer, CFM International and Nigeria’s biggest carrier, Arik Air have opened talks on the training of Nigerians on aircraft engine maintenance and repairs.
The initiative is part of Arik Air contribution to government’s local content development policy.
Under the arrangement, the airline is to select outstanding young Nigerians that would be trained by CFM, which is the manufacturer of Arik Air Boeing 737 New Generation (NG) engines.
The President of CFM, Jean-Paul Ebanga had visited Arik Air office in Lagos to affirm the importance of the airline to the company and also show commitment to the planned partnership.
Ebanga who toured Arik Air’s facilities said that he was impressed by the progress the airline has recorded in just eight years of its commercial operations, adding that Arik would soon be one of the leading airlines in Africa.
“What the Chairman of Arik Air, Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide is doing is bringing the needed change in air transport in Nigeria. In three to four years from now Africa will be the most populated continent with growing middle class.
We have CFM engines in many aircraft operating in Africa, so we grow with Africa’s economy as the middle class becomes empowered by the on-going economic growth. I think the population of CFM engines in Africa is the biggest one. I think we have about 900 engines flying all over Africa and the engines are behaving very well,” Ebanga said.
He also observed that for African airlines to be competitive they have to operate new and modern equipment as Arik Air is doing, engage the services of skilled manpower and operate modern system that would dovetail with operators in other parts of the world because every airline in the world is competing at the same level because all have access to the same market.
“I think one of the challenges of Africa is that Africa is now part of the global economy and African airlines are competing with all the other airlines in the world.
I think African airlines will have to keep up with the skills, organisational efficiency to be able to compare with the best airlines in the world.
This is what is already in progress. Arik is one of such airlines in Africa. They are using the top notch aircraft like other companies in the world. Of course, there are challenges but the leaders of these airlines in Africa understand those challenges,” the CFM President said.
Chairman of Arik Air, Arumemi-Ikhide in response disclosed that the airline and CFM International discussed partnership, development of indigenous manpower and technical support of the company to the airline.
“We set up two working groups made up of people from their side and our side and we are looking at issues of Harmattan on our engines and you know we are going to build MRO.
They are going to let us know what role they will play there. We are going to start a lot of work locally but they must have to be of international standard. Nigerians are well trained.
We have skilled people all over the world. Like he said, it is one step after the other but government must support. Without government’s support, we cannot do anything,” he said.
He also said CFM engines are good because the people are very experienced and the engines are very efficient.
“They are very safe. We have not experienced any flame out or catastrophe. They are used all over the world and they are very efficient.
In fact, we are satisfied with their engine performance in Nigeria. We use 26 of their engines on our 13 Boeing 737 airplanes and we also have spares. We have a long relationship with them. We found their engines very satisfactory and we have placed more orders with Boeing for the Boeing Max.
So in a couple of years we are going to have about 30 aircraft and 60 engines,” Arumemi-Ikhide said.