As other essentials of daily life vie for attention and the cost of living is high in Nigeria, some aviation students seek alternatives to achieve their goals of becoming pilots due to the high fees charged by the training institutions.
Civil aviation is an indispensable part of the socio-economic transport infrastructure and its economy in general. Nigeria has many regulated airports, heliports and airstrips. It is also home to 10 national airlines.
With such a vibrant aviation industry, there are few aviation schools for pilots in Nigeria. Also, most graduates of aviation schools find it difficult to find employment.
In some cases, new graduates and young pilots are asked to offer certain amounts in advance in order to find a job. It is alleged that some young pilots are asked by the airlines to buy their own jobs or forget to be absorbed into the company.
According to one source, most of the investors who get into jet charter services in Nigeria prefer to employ expatriates as it saves them money in the long run.
Sometimes, if the airline is not able to train a pilot, they ask him to pay and negotiate his salary according to what he paid.
“My friend and I grew up with this dream of becoming a pilot. I graduated from the engineering department of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I needed 8 million naira to train as a pilot in the school piloting Zaria, but it never happened because my parents couldn’t raise the funds. Same thing happened to my friend. Despite several scholarship applications, none worked out. Funding killed that dream “Chidi Udoka told BusinessDay.
Udoka said many other students in Nigeria are facing the same crisis.
The official duration of pilot training is 94 weeks, but it depends on certain factors, some of which are the instructors and the weather. During the Harmattan, the students hardly train and this can delay the duration of their studies in the establishment.
According to Robert Osuhor, a captain of Emirates Airline, “One of the problems that the aviation industry in Nigeria has not solved is the issue of funding, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost of training pilots is beyond the financial means of the majority of the people.”
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Osuhor explained that in some advanced countries such as the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA), among others, loans are made available to students to enable them to realize their dreams.
“For example, in the UK you can try to get a government-backed career development loan. In Europe, one of the low-cost carrier offerings is the cadet training program, but it still requires a significant financial contribution and in the Middle East there is a similar program run by another low-cost carrier,” did he declare.
He advocated a system in which government and business work together to fund pilot training scholarships, which he says will boost the economy in the long run.
“What is needed is for governments and industry to share the costs of pilot training scholarships for aspiring youngsters. These costs can then be recouped once the candidate starts working. The Emirates has this kind of program, supported by the government, for the benefit of nationals of the United Arab Emirates,” he said.
Osuhor advises pilot trainees in Nigeria to dream big and do as much research as possible.
“Things change very quickly and you want to be able to take advantage of any new initiatives that arise early on. Remember that the path may not always be straight forward, but it is possible with hard work and dedication,” he said.
Similarly, Chijioke Akpu, Senior First Officer on the A380 with Emirates Airline, and a 2006 graduate of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology’s flight school, Zaria, urged young people who want to become pilots but lack the resources to work hard. and scholarship hope.
“Keep dreaming and working hard, especially where resources are limited. I’ll borrow a quote from Seneca, he said “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”.
“So we are taking our chances. There are scholarship programs from most state governments and sometimes airlines also sponsor cadets. But you have to be prepared and ready while you wait or look for the opportunity.
“So we are taking our chances. There are scholarship programs from most state governments and sometimes airlines also sponsor cadets. But you have to be prepared and ready while you wait or look for the opportunity,” he said.
Fees charged vary by course and institution. For a student to take a standard pilot course at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) and Dhaewood Aviation Business School (DABS) among others, the fees range from N7.5 million to N8 million.
However, some management courses such as Hospitality, Flight Operations, Cargo Handling and Ticketing can cost around ₦50,000 to ₦230,000 or even more depending on the period (3-month or mid-term courses) .
“I paid more than 500,000 naira for a 6-month course on ticketing, and after I graduated, it was not easy to find a job,” said Glory Usoroh, a former student of the ‘Universal School of Aviation.