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Osun Airport MRO Facilities: A Model For Maintenance Of Aircraft In West Africaby Inwalomhe Donald

Every year, Nigerian airlines spend billions of Naira to service aircraft in the fleets outside the country because we do not have functional Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities. Governor Aregbesola has called for the establishment of MRO facilities over the years which have fallen on deaf ears, and the country has continued to lose hard currency because her airlines do so abroad. One of the major challenges confronting the aviation sector in Nigeria is the lack of facility to carry out maintenance checks on aircraft.

New Osun Airport MRO facilities will save Nigeria billions of naira annually which is one of the lessons that the strategic mega project taught Nigeria. When the first phase of MKO Abiola International Airport, Ido Osun in Osun state is completed, the facility will save the country a foreign exchange of billions of naira per annum. As Aircraft manufacturers move towards composite materials and avionics become more sophisticated, the Osun Airport hangar maintenance facility will need to respond to the new requirements. The aircraft maintenance facility will resemble an industrial facility which will require remediation of toxic effluents, air pollution permits, safety standards for working in hazardous areas and a high tech facility with laboratories and clean rooms.

The Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at Osun Airport, is nearing its completion. On request of the State Government, the Federal Government pledged support for the project, and the facility will become a national hangar. However, a nice and large hangar does not necessarily mean that the technical knowledge and man power will be available to run the facility and provide high-quality maintenance services. Who will become responsible for operating the facility and provide maintenance services? Will domestic and foreign airlines be interested in using the facility?

In order to better serve several airlines in Nigeria, Osun airport aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul facilities is in good location. All facilities provide light airframe maintenance for both narrow body and wide body aircraft. Osun Airport facility is our home base, and covers nearly 2.7 million square feet (about 250,000 square meters or the size of 47 football fields). It was specifically designed to provide a smooth flow of work and material. Airframe maintenance work is performed in one area, aircraft engine maintenance work in another, and component maintenance in yet another. Meanwhile, all three are tied together by an efficient, reliable multi-vehicle transportation system capable of delivering material and parts quickly.

Osun Technical Operation hangar features state-of-the-art design, and is devoted to specific responsibilities for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of your fleet.

It has been revealed that West and Central African carriers expend at least $1bn on maintenance of their aircraft annually outside the region. This is as airlines in the country spend at least $1.8m regularly in carrying out C-Checks on their aircraft outside the country. The Federal Government has also said that it would formulate policies that would make Nigerian airlines to remain in business rather than allow them to close shop.

Engr. Isaac Balami, the immediate past President of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), has disclosed that all the airlines in the West and Central Africa expend $1bn in maintenance of their aircraft.  “Airlines in this region expend $1bn on the maintenance of their aircraft annually, but with this now, such maintenance can now be carried out within the region and this will reduce capital flight out of Nigeria and the sub-region.”
Leasing of maintenance and repair space can be costly. Osun Airport will build its reputation on the availability of space and excellent service to aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul companies. Osun Airport will provide multiple types of space availability and facilities to accommodate the needs of airport operation. With a smoother start-up and transition process, tools, equipment and materials to the airport with greater ease and less complication, Osun airport will deliver.

After waiting for more than 20 years, the people of Osun are now set to witness the launch of the country’s best airport hangar facility. With an initial capacity of 3 million passengers a year, the mega airport is among the largest airports in Africa. Over time, its capacity is expected to rise to 10 million passengers a year, making it one of the highest-capacity airports on the content.

The new multimillion dollar airport is seating on a 4,500-hectare piece of land in a less crowded area with no heavy traffic jam like in the overcrowded capital. It also has a larger terminal and runways with a capacity to host more people and flights.

Boosting the Economy in Osun

With a new airport that can accommodate more passengers and flights, the economy of Osun is expected to expand. The government of Senegal also hopes that the airport will help to diversify the country’s economy, which has for a long time relied on Abuja. The airport will serve as the centerpiece of the “Airport City” and the team is already planning to develop commercial installations such as hotels, malls, and other business facilities around the facility. At least 1,000 local retailers will be allowed to operate duty-free shops on the site, which will have a direct impact on the local economy.

Since the liquidation of Nigeria Airways by the Federal Government in 2004, which had functional Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities that could occupy at least two Boeing aircraft at a time, airlines in the country have resorted to taking out their aircraft outside the country for required checks. Unfortunately, a country like Nigeria with its pedigree as ‘Giant of Africa’ does not have an aircraft MRO facility.

Osun airport will be the first in Nigeria to provide a functional Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities in the 21st century.

Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City inwalomhe.donald@yahoo.com