The Airforce Institute of Technology (AFIT), which is the research and development arm of the Nigeria Airforce and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) Presidency, have taken up the challenge of completing all works on the first made-in-Nigeria helicopter initiated by NASENI.
President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the project be launched before the end of his administration in 2023.
In order to fast-track works on the helicopter project, the President directed the relocation of the project from NASENI’s site in Abuja to AFIT in Kaduna, Kaduna state.
A press statement issued by Mr Olusegun Ayeoyenikan, NASENI Deputy Director, Information, said the official handover of space and hanger (Helipad), including the runaway for test-flight of the helicopter located in Airforce Institute, took place, Tuesday, in Kaduna.
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 be expanded to include collaboration with AFIT and the subsequent relocation of the project for its continuation at the Airforce Institute in Kaduna.
While briefing the Commandant of AFIT, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of NASENI, Engr. Prof. 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 his response, the Commandant of AFIT, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Aminu Yakubu, said the directive from President Buhari “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.”
Buhari’s directive also stated that AFIT shall provide space and helipad for the NASENI helicopter and to relocate the project to AFIT for the two institutions to collaborate.
Air Vice Marshal Yakubu said the collaboration between NASENI & 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 Airforce is at the verge of developing unmanned aerial vehicles. AFIT has gone very far in the design and manufacturing of air vehicles, he said, stating further that the collaboration to produce the first made-in-Nigeria helicopter between the two organisations was sacrosanct and therefore would be pursued with vigour in the days and months ahead.
The handing over ceremony took place and the following items were handed over to the Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI: the hanger, office space and run-way, where on completion of the aircraft, the made-in-Nigeria helicopter will embark on test-flight.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI who was highly elated by the development explained that the journey to seeing the Institute’s first-made-in Nigeria helicopter is coming gradually to fruition.