Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), which is the research and development (R&D) arm of the Nigeria Air Force and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) have completed works on the first made-in-Nigeria helicopter initiated by NASENI.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the launch of the helicopter should be before the end of his administration in 2023.
In order to fast-track works on the helicopter project, the president, who is the chairman of the governing board of NASENI, recently directed the relocation of the project from NASENI’s site in Abuja to AFIT in Kaduna, Kaduna State.
The official handover of space and hanger (helipad), including the runaway for test-flight of the helicopter located in Air Force Institute took place in Kaduna, yesterday.
The president had directed NASENI to complete works on the helicopter project and to make it ready for official launch by him before the expiration of his tenure in 2023.
NASENI in 2017 entered into technical agreement with Dynali Helicopter Company in Belgium for the actualisation of the project before the latest directive by Mr. President that the project should be expanded to include collaboration with AFIT and the subsequent relocation of the project for its continuation at the Air Force Institute in Kaduna.
While briefing the commandant of AFIT, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of NASENI, Mohammed Sani Haruna, explained that part of the presidential directives was that all NASENI projects in aeronautics should be relocated to AFIT and to be included in the collaborations between the two institutions.
In the wisdom of Mr. President, both military science and knowledge by civilians should be harnessed for the benefits of the larger Nigeria society, going forward.
Commandant of AFIT, Mohammed Yakubu, said the directive from the president “is a task that both NASENI and AFIT must carry out with all the resources that are required to bring the dream to pass. We are determined to collaborate to make the dream on the made-in-Nigeria helicopter become a reality,” he said.
President Buhari also said AFIT shall provide space and helipad for the NASENI helicopter and to relocate the project to AFIT so that the two institutions could collaborate.
Yakubu said the collaboration between NASENI and AFIT was the clincher collaboration to launch Nigeria into relevance in the world of aviation with the proposed involvement in aircraft design and development.
“The high capacity and manpower in this area has made the AFIT acquired experts in aeronautics,” he said.
According to the terms of the collaboration, some NASENI technical staff would be resident in AFIT for adequate interface for the purpose of sharing knowledge and technical capacity.
Executive vice chairman of NASENI explained that the journey to seeing the NASENI first made-in-Nigeria helicopter is coming gradually to fruition.