The Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) has taken delivery of the first of 20 new Diamond trainer aircraft ordered from Austrian aircraft manufacturer Diamond Aircraft in 2013 to replace an obsolete fleet.
The deal, estimated at $20 million in 2013, was secured through local company Interjet Nigerian Limited, the official West African business representative for Diamond Aircraft.
The first DA-42NG was handed over to Nigerian Minister of State for Aviation Senator Hadi Serika by Interjet Nigeria Limited manager Seun Peters on 24 April.
Serika said the government decided to replace the ageing 29 trainer aircraft operated by the NCAT Zaria campus because the majority were obsolete, while the airworthy few were too expensive to maintain.
NACT Rector Abdulsalam Mohammed said the new trainer aircraft would reduce operating costs.
“Today, we are taking delivery of the first DA-42 twin-engine aircraft. NCAT is acquiring a total of 20 of these aircraft, specifically five twin-engine DA-42 and 15 single-engine DA-40 trainers. The new aircraft will significantly improve our cost efficiency.
“Besides, they are also equipped with a glass cockpit and Garmin 1000 system, which will make it easier for our graduate pilots to transition to various types of new-generation commercial aircraft,” Mohammed said.
The DA 42 is powered by two Austro Engine AE300 diesel engines, which produce 168 hp each to propel the aircraft to a maximum cruise speed of 328 km/h.
Delivery has been delayed by more than a year due to bureaucratic delays in releasing the funds. According to the procurement contract signed between Interjet and the Nigerian government in 2013, five aircraft were supposed to be delivered every five months.
Due to the Nigerian government’s failure to pay, Diamond Aircraft has been forced to sell at least seven aircraft that were initially manufactured for the Nigerian contract to other buyers to offset maintenance and storage costs.
NCAT operates 29 trainer aircraft including ageing Socata Trinidad TB-20GT and Beech Baron 58s which were purchased as second hand equipment more than 15 years ago.
Meanwhile, Peters said Diamond Aircraft and Interjet Nigeria have agreed to set up the first DA-series Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) centre in Abuja.
“In partnership with Diamond Aircraft of Austria, we are working towards building a state-of-the-art maintenance facility in Abuja to service Nigeria and aircraft operators in other West African countries.”
The MRO will service the growing number of West African operators of Diamond aircraft. These include the air forces of Ghana, Niger and Nigeria, which together operate between 7 and 12 DA-42 MPP (Multi-Purpose Platform)’Guardian’ maritime surveillance aircraft.