Recently, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority gave an Air Operators Certificate, AOC, to Genesis Global Aviation Limited after successfully fulfilling all the requirements contained in the law for an award of the certificate.
The company is an helicopter company that offers services to on off-shore, on-shore, emergency medical evacuation, surveillance, logistics among others.
In this interview, Chairman/CEO of the company, a marine captain, Mr. Emmanuel Iheanacho speaks to Newsbulletin editor on their AOC and plans.
What is your conviction that there would be a return on your investment at this time of recession and complains from other player of bad business? And what service niche wise that would make you different from others doing same business with you?
It is indeed true that lots and lots of players in that industry are falling out but that has not changed the situation that we require helicopter services rather it be in respect of offshore service delivery or for emergency medical evacuation or for general logistics of moving people and personnel from one point to the other, there is a requirement for helicopter services. So if the economy is bad and helicopter services providers are falling, it does not mean that other people cannot be entering the market and going in the opposite direction and I think really people should doff their hats to us to say that we are not quitting, we are absolutely standing there because we really believe in the resilience of the Nigerian economy, we believe that what we are witnessing is just a deep for the time being and we believe that there is bound to be a rebound at some point in time. The future belongs to those who dare, who dares wins, so we dare and we are investing in the helicopter industry.
How would you describe receiving your AOC today from the NCAA?
It is absolutely a wonderful achievement in my opinion and I did recount to them at a meeting we had at the NCAA how we came into this business. We have been in the business for two whole years plus and it’s been a very, very hard journey coming to where we are today, if you want to know about the AOC process, there are five stages and you have to go through rigorous examination, standards to meet, understanding the rules, so many things to do and for me, just achieving the AOC certificate today, is a major milestone we have achieved. Off course the other objective of making money in due course will come but we are really thankful to God that we came this way.
The aviation industry is one of the most regulated industry in the world and I understand the reason why that is the case because of the safety considerations in operating delicate aircraft, so if you make a little mistake there is no second chance to say I want to rectify it, so that is why it is a major challenge to anybody who wishes to invest in the industry and we feel that it is huge achievement for us to go through the five stages and to get to the point where they say yes, you have come the full way and we will issue you with an AOC certificate. What the AOC means I will like to say this to you is that we actually did have certification other than the AOC, we have AOP certificate which allowed us to operate our helicopter on a private basis, we have the PMC certificate which also allowed us to operate the helicopter on private basis but we have now convinced the system and the regulatory authorities that we have meant the standards for offering commercial services to whom so ever might require those equipments and that is why we are here to celebrate today.
Your helicopter pilots, are they foreigners or Nigerians?
They are expert Nigerians, we have Captian David Nwoke, captain Coker, young man, really highly skilled and he has absolutely things moving those helicopters back and forth, so, we have a lot of highly skilled Nigerians that is not to say that if we need to have a foreigners, we will indeed reach and get them but for the time being, it is fully nigerian compliant.
Your type of helicopter?
We have a fleet of 6 EC 155B helicopters, there are Eurocopters, 6 helicopters is a large fleet for a helicopter operating company but that is how we came into it, we owe a fleet of 6 EC 155B helicopters.
Due to bad economy, some helicopter companies have cut down on their staff strength, like Caverton and Bristow, are you going to pick from the unemployed pilots than bring in new ones?
Well, we have to understand the business of operating helicopter, we cannot pouch any odd pilot, it has to be a pilot who is type rated on this type of aircraft, so again, a pilot could be type rated on this aircraft but if he doesn’t fly the aircraft for some time his type rating will lapse and he would need to go for further training to become type rated again. Captain Coker is type rated, we have sent quite a number of pilots down to France to train and we would continue to recruit people who have flown this type of helicopters in the past and if it is necessary, we would send them for further training so that their type rating becomes up-to-date.
Are you looking at Kaduna?
Yes, we where one of the first to fly a mission to Abuja, from Abuja to Kaduna, from kaduna to Ibadan and back here just before they closed the airport, we have looked at it and will continue to look at it. If there is a need for us to fly it on a commercial basis we would do so.
What is your worth of investment in the industry?
I couldn’t tell you anyway, it’s not really necessary for us to start talking about the value of investment, it’s very important that we have helicopters anyway in support of off-shore, deep off-shore operations, in support of surveillance, if there is responsibility to survey our pipelines, our NEPA lines, to ferry people who are sick, to do all kinds of things. Nobody can exclusively position themselves for one niche, you have to really be versatile enough to do all and everything with the machine subject to the provisions of the law.