• Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

NASENI, AFIT Bolster Collaboration For AAVDI, Indigenous Helicopter Production In Nigeria


Jul 21, 2023

Dr Bashir Gwandu, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) explaining a point to Air Vice Marshall (AVM) S.L. Rabe, Commandant, Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Kaduna when he paid him a working visit at NASENI headquarters in Abuja on 19 July, 2023.

The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering (NASENI), Bashir Gwandu, has emphasized the need for a closer partnership with the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in Kaduna, Kaduna State.

The collaboration is aimed at ensuring a seamless commencement of operations at the permanent site of the Aeronautics and Air Vehicle Development Institute (AAVDI), an institution under NASENI, which is situated within the AFIT Complex in Kaduna.

During a courtesy visit by the new Commandant of AFIT, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) S.L. Rabe, to the NASENI headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday, the NASENI CEO extended congratulations to AVM Rabe on his assumption of duty.

The visit was an opportunity for AVM Rabe, accompanied by AFIT Provost, Professor Dauda Mohammed; Director, Quality Assurance, AFIT, Dr. I. Yahuza; and Director of Projects, AFIT, Group Captain Ahmed, to discuss collaboration plans for establishing the NASENI Institute in Kaduna.

AVM Rabe expressed his honor at being received by NASENI and conveyed his eagerness to strengthen ties with the agency for the development of AADVI and the expeditious progress of the ongoing work on a domestically produced helicopter.

He assured his commitment to work closely with NASENI and proposed that AFIT staff participate in training sessions for unskilled talents such as welding, in support of the collaborative efforts.

He said “I am of the opinion that the AFIT staff should be part of the NASENI trainings to gain knowledge from the trainings.”

Gwandu revealed that he had only been on the job for a little over two months since his appointment. During this time, he made regular visits to various NASENI Institutes to acquaint himself with their ongoing projects and activities.

“Surely, our work with the Air Force and the military establishment are areas that I want to focus on because there are some of our key projects that AFIT is championing and that cooperation is very important to us in particular and to the country.”

He explained that Nigeria’s primary objective in acquiring the helicopter and the AAVDI is to achieve self-reliance in aviation technology. He emphasized that the focus would be on manufacturing components not only for the helicopter but also for other aircraft that NASENI has the capability to produce.

He noted “We can train people to learn to produce the components. Like I said, we have been looking at different components of air crafts in particular and how we can penetrate that industry”

“We produce a lot of titanium in this country, as we know the body of aircrafts in particular use composite materials which do not work with aluminum as we all know because of corrosion. One of the key projects I am working on is getting a team to work on Titanium.

“I have companies that I am talking to courtesy of your colleague at NASENI. We will work with what we have to produce some of the parts. We have Institutes like HEDI in Kano that produce hydraulics that is needed in aviation. We are trying to form a team that we can train in different areas of aerospace such as satellites, down to aircraft aviation.

He said “one of the key projects we’ve discussed on Airbus is the MRO in Abuja. Instead of taking all our aircrafts out, we want to establish an MRO here so that we can do it here. Why Abuja is important is because it is centre of Africa. The distance to anywhere from Abuja is not more than five hours. It is the most central location and also not much rain activities as much as it is in other places”
Gwandu, discussing NASENI’s focus on developing aircraft parts and systems, particularly Avionics, emphasized the need for rapid progress to avoid falling behind technologically advanced countries that profit from high-tech industries. He stated that NASENI’s initiative was just beginning, and they must start somewhere to compete on a global scale.

To support this endeavor, the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) has generously allocated land/space for the construction of NASENI’s Aeronautics and Air Vehicle Development Institute. AFIT has also provided essential infrastructure for the smooth initiation of projects and pledged to contribute a technical team to assist in the installation and testing of aviation equipment.

AFIT will further collaborate with NASENI by offering training in helicopter piloting, maintenance, and the development of Maintenance, Repairs, and Overhaul (MRO) plans. They will provide the necessary technical support for hangar development, testing, avionics, and reverse engineering of the Dynali helicopter.

In return, NASENI will work with AFIT on prefabricated structures/homes to address housing deficiencies in certain areas. They will also lend their technical expertise in setting up AFIT’s Laser Cutting machine and automation systems.

Moreover, NASENI will support AFIT by providing their technical team during skills acquisition programs, hands-on training workshops, seminars, conferences, and other training sessions. Additionally, they will supply AFIT with recommended science kits to enhance their educational offerings.

As of December 21, 2021, a presidential order has been issued to relocate the NASENI Made-in-Nigeria helicopter project to AFIT. Furthermore, the order establishes the Aeronautics and Air Vehicle Development Institute within AFIT’s premises, solidifying the partnership and cooperation between the two institutions.

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