You probably have heard before now that there were many Nigerian pilots looking for work.

Well, that may soon become history as more Nigerian airline operators turn to Nigerian pilots as they ease out the expatriate ones.

Punch reports that the number of licensed expatriate pilots in the country had dropped from 631 in 2016 to 609 by 2017, quoting data obtained from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.

This is despite the total number of licensed pilots operating in the country increasing from 2,226 in 2016 to 2,356 last year, working with the seven passenger airlines, about six cargo airlines, five helicopter companies and other charter airlines.

According to findings, apart from the newer aircraft models that require certain skills set, domestic airlines now opt for more Nigerian pilots.

Air Peace and Med-View Airlines, for instance, employ about 98% indigenous pilots, while Dana Air pilots are about 85 per cent Nigerians.

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Investigation showed that domestic airlines were also beginning to invest more in training indigenous aircraft engineers.

The Chief Operating Officer, Dana Air, Obi Mbanuzuo, also confirmed the trend saying that the airline had increased the employment of Nigerian pilots and engineers.

He said, “We have ‘Nigerianised’ our crew. Before now, we had 60 expatriate engineers; now, it is down to eight; we have trained our local people.

“Our flight deck was also predominantly expatriates; but now, we have mainly Nigerians. We didn’t chase anyone away, it was natural alteration; we trained and replaced. Our first set of trained Nigerians first flight officers has recently been promoted to captains.”

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