FG earmarks N2bn for Zaria local aircraft assembly

The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved N2.29bn for the assembling of Hungarian Magnus light aircraft at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, Kaduna State.

Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this to journalists shortly after this week’s Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja.

According to Sirika, renewed demand for the “spin recovery aircraft” is necessitating the production of the light aircraft which he said is durable for the training of military and civilian pilots.

He noted that the first set of the assembled aircraft is expected to fly within the last four months of the Buhari regime.

Sirika’s comments comes 17 months after the federal government expressed interest to partner with the Hungarian aircraft manufacturing firm to establish an assembling plant for light airplanes locally.

During an inspection visit to the Magnus Aircraft Headquarters in Pogany, Hungary, in August 2021, the minister said the FG’s goal is to locally assemble aircraft “from start to finish” before the current regime ends.

“If we venture with them, we may start with assembling plants and later manufacturing,” Sirika said during his visit.

Asked why the FG chose Zaria as the assembling base, Sirika said the existing college of aviation provides a ready facility which will save the cost of building another.

He added that situating the plant in Zaria further expands the capacity of NCAT as a federal government agency.

During the briefing, Sirika also revealed that FEC approved N546.11m for the procurement and installation of Category IIIC landing system in 15 airports nationwide.

However, the installation will begin from the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, and the Katsina Airport.

The Cat IIIC landing system, he explained, enables pilots to land in zero-visibility conditions.

Asked about the current state of the Nigeria Air project, Sirika, declined to give detailed comments on the issue, saying it was subjudice.

However, he said there is “nothing stopping the takeoff of Nigeria Air.”

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