Student management

Funding hinders participation in student pilot training

Many aviation students are now looking for alternative funding to enable them to fulfill their dream of becoming pilots due to the high fees charged by the limited number of training institutions in the Nigerian aviation sector.

Nigeria has many regulated airports, heliports and airstrips. It is also home to 10 national airlines. However, there are only a few aviation schools for pilot training in the country, with fees ranging between 7.5 and 8 million naira. 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, investors getting into jet charter services in Nigeria prefer to employ expatriates as it saves them money in the long run. According to our sources, 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 Department of Engineering at 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 money. Same thing happened to my friend. Despite several scholarship applications, none worked. Funding killed this dream,” Chidi Udoka told BusinessDay.

Udoka said many other students in Nigeria were facing the same crisis.

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The official duration of pilot training is 94 weeks, but this depends on certain factors, including instructors and weather. During the harmattan, students hardly train and this can delay the duration of studies at the institution.

According to Robert Osuhor, a captain of Emirates Airline, “One of the problems that the aviation industry in Nigeria has not solved is funding, even before the Covid-19 pandemic the cost of pilot training exceeded the financial means of the majority”. people.”

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 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 the government and industry to share the costs of pilot training scholarships for young aspirants. 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 advised 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 straightforward, 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 needed to work hard and pursue scholarships.

“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.

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 could cost between N50,000 and N230,000 and even more depending on the duration (3 months or mid-term course).

Glory Usoroh, an alumnus of the Universal School of Aviation shared her experience at the school.

“I paid over N500,000 for a 6 month ticketing course, and after I graduated it was not easy to find a job,” she said.

Abednego Galadima, president of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers and instructor at NCAT, said the school has not increased its fees over the past 10 years despite the rising cost of operations and the aviation fuel.

Galadima said that currently there are plans to increase fees in Zaria; the school is currently struggling to keep up with demands, adding that what students currently pay is heavily subsidized.