21 November 2012

Nigeria: Steady Progression - From First Female Pilot to Rector

The appointment of the first female pilot in Nigeria, Captain (Mrs.) Chinyere Kalu as the Rector/Chief Executive of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria within one year, has brought about tremendous achievements in the college, ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM and OIBOH PETER write.

The popular saying that "what a man can do a woman can do better", is quite obvious in the appointment of Captain (Mrs.) Chinyere Kalu as the Rector/Chief Executive of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria and in line with President Jonathan's Transformation Agenda.

The soft spoken first Nigerian female pilot and the second female rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria has a passion for excellence, professionalism and places high premium on safety defines her charted roadmap and vision for producing the highest quality of trained aviators.

This vision invariably turned to a mission is in tandem with the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan transformation agenda.

In one of her first functions as Rector Chief/Executive, she had a town hall meeting in which she dwelt on touchy issues which for a long time had agitated the minds of workers.

She declared that, in as much as she will reward loyalty, dedication and hard work, she will not condone laxity, infractions and rumour peddling, adding that her office remained open to staff and students on any issue. She also promised that staff will embark on their annual capacity building programmes

At the beginning of this year, the indefatigable Chief Executive outlined areas of focus and assembled a crack-team of management staff to help her achieve set targets and objectives.

In the period under review (October 2011- October 2012), the Rector and Chief Executive, Captain (Mrs.) Chinyere Kalu MFR, the Ada Ugo 1 of Abia State, has scaled many heights in her quest to reposition the College. Amidst lean and progressively dwindling federal allocations, the current management have accomplished a lot.

Research being the hallmark of development and in recognition of this very important aspect, the College management under the astute leadership of Captain Chinyere Kalu, has established an advanced studies and research unit, in the first few months of her assuming the leadership of the apex aviation college.

In furtherance of her commitment to provide opportunities for the development of manpower at all levels for the industry, and to widen the scope of activities of the College, the Rector introduced a Post-Graduate Diploma (PGD) programme. This singular act is to widen the academic horizon for students who veritably start their academic life in the school and aspire to attain lofty heights of a post-graduate diploma (PGD) in their chosen fields.

The PGD programme is up and running and prospective students wishing to enlist into this programme could visit the Zaria based College for further information or visit the College's website. The Lagos Campus will take of in January 2013.

To give credence to Captain Kalu's leadership and managerial skill, Niger State's government has gone into partnership with the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria to establish the Minna Campus.

At the flag-off of the Minna campus, Babangida Aliyu recognised the need for the youths of Niger State to imbibe skills that could enable them compete with their peers around the world, away from the conventional university education which everyone acquires these days.

Capt. Kalu has since deployed men and material for the smooth take-off of the Minna campus, which had added another feather to her cap of achievements in a space of one year. The College has also undertaken a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Niger State government to train and absorb students of Niger State origin into the Flying School of the College.

Previously, Cabin Crew students had undertaken their studies mostly within the classroom environment and a little exposure to actual air craft, because the College fleet of trainer aircraft cannot be used for commercial operations. Cabin crew students need sufficient exposure in on-the-job training with wide bodied aircraft that has the attributes of a commercial airplane. These constitute the working environment of the cabin crew and the cabin crew students could not comprehensively grasp the processes and functions when insufficient training was done at exorbitant charges.

To solve this problem faced by the students in the bud, the Capt. Kalu led-management has acquired an unused B-737 aircraft for the sole purpose of training cabin crew students. The newly acquired aircraft has the trapping of both business and economy classes with emergency and life saving devices which form the fulcrum of the job of a cabin crew member. Students of this unit can now heave a sigh of relief realizing that they will have sufficient practical experience as they go into the industry on completion of their studies.

In her resolve to make the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology a centre of excellence, Capt. Chinyere Kalu who is well grounded in all aspects of aviation has left no stone unturned in developing all departments of the College. In the Air Traffic Service/Comm. School, a Three-Dimensional (3D) Visual Tower equipment for Air Traffic Control training has been installed to improve the quality of training and the skills imparted to Air Traffic Control and Communication Students. This vital equipment will no doubt boost their learning capacities. The graduates will be equipped to work in ways that greatly improve safety in our airspace and this is a plus to the entire aviation industry.

At the time, Capt. (Mrs.) Kalu assumed the leadership of the College, flight training in Nigeria has been only for fixed wing airplanes. Training in Rotary winged aircraft called helicopters that are highly needed in oil explorations, disaster management and other key activities was not available in the country. This, Capt. Kalu has successfully introduced and has acquired two new Bell 206 Helicopters. The training of Helicopter pilots which for years has been on the drawing board has effectively taken off under this administration. Nigerians and other West African countries who throng Europe and America spending foreign exchange to acquire this skill can now acquire it at the College. This will not only help in the economic battle against capital flight but will also earn the country foreign currency. Alongside the Bell 206 Helicopter, the College has acquired a mock-up helicopter for the training of helicopter maintenance engineers. Organisations, especially oil companies with fleet of choppers can now send their staff for training and retraining at the Zaria facility.

Captain Chinyere Kalu has continued to exhibit her knack in the management of men and resources. In spite of a declining revenue landscape, the veteran Aviator has redoubled efforts; by purchasing a new ALSIM-AL-X simulator bringing the total number to two for virtual training. Flight training for students and staff has incontrovertibly been enhanced by the acquisition of these simulators and length of training is shortened.

Her other accomplishment so far in office include the acquisition of a Gas turbine trainer to compliment an existing one in order to give the students quality time with the equipment. In addition to this, the College has procured and installed a fully functional Aerodynamic (wind tunnel) trainer thereby concretizing her earlier promise to the students.

Civil construction has also received a major boost under her management. Construction and rehabilitation of Aviation Management School has been completed.

Surely, Captain Chinyere Kalu has raised the stakes in project execution and policy implementation, deploying scarce resources to achieve tangible targets.

To reduce the frequency of power outages from the public supply system, the College management has purchased and installed a 1000 KVA generator to augment supply from public power source. The College is now experiencing constancy in electricity supply as outages are hardly experienced in the College.

The Executive Students Hostel which has been under construction has received a major makeover highlighting its beauty and imposing features, making it look executive as the name implies.

Construction and equipment of classroom blocks has enlivened academic activity, enthroning a convivial atmosphere on campus. Alongside this, the Flying School Briefing Room and engineering school have been rehabilitated also with the state of the art CBT simulator. Also rehabilitated is Training Aids Production Unit. This unit now has capacity to produce training materials for the various courses for the schools in the College in order to meet the demand of increased student activity. Coming on the heels of these is the design, construction and installation of runway, lighting and power outage alarm for F-28 block.

Erratic water supply in the College's hub better known as SITE I have tremendously improved with the sinking of boreholes and also the electricity generating set at the SITE II of the College has been resuscitated after being left redundant for a number of years. Staff members residing in this part of the College can attest to the improvement of electricity and water supply.

Putting all these physical projects in place in just one year simply implies that in the next three years, the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology will be the cynosure of all eyes, especially its competitors. This is the vision and mission of the Rector.

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