Sanwo-Olu unveils Caverton’s AW 109 helicopter simulator

The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday, launched the Leonardo AW 109 Level 5 Simulator at the Caverton Helicopters Aviation Training Centre in Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

In his remarks, Sanwo-Olu lauded Caverton’s founder and chairman, Aderemi Makanjuola, and the management for their contributions to the Nigerian economy through job creation.

Sanwo-Olu said, “Baba could have locked up what God has given to him and not invested it.”

The governor described Makanjuola as a man who had stayed in an uncommon terrain with the kind of business he had been doing with Caverton and commended him for the giant strides he had made.

“It gladdens my heart that indeed we can have maintenance of aircraft at this highest level, all just tucked in quietly in Lagos and nobody makes a lot of noise about it. I thought that was all. Now, to also come into a facility that has world-class simulators where we can train, we can retrain, we can certify pilots of various grades. I think it’s an investment indeed. We need to commend the leadership of Caverton for being very audacious and for taking these right steps.

“Today, we have seen the unveiling and the commissioning (sic) of a new simulator, the Leonardo AW109 simulator. I’ve been to a foreign simulator; this is my second time, and I tell you, it doesn’t come any better than this. It is real and it has all of the trappings that are inside an aircraft. With this bold step, Caverton is preventing capital flight as all the training can be done locally,” he said.

According to Sanwo-Olu, with this innovation, the number of skills, the number of military and commercial operators that will come to a facility like this to get adequate training will increase. “Training that is normally carried out abroad has now been created in our country and Lagos. And I want to enjoin all players in the industry to rally and support investments like this.

“Let us ensure that whatever training we require does not need us to go abroad. We have it all in our locations and our facilities here in Lagos. And I want to commend the leadership and management of Caverton,” the governor declared.

He also commended the company for its safety standards at every level.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Olabode Makanjuola, said, “Today is a special day for us as we welcome you all to the launch of Caverton’s AW109 simulator.

“It is a significant milestone in the advancement of aviation training in Nigeria, as we proudly unveil Caverton’s second simulator dedicated to supporting Nigerian pilots and the country’s rotary wing industry. Our first, a full-reality AW 139 simulator, enables us to provide comprehensive and realistic training for our pilots, ensuring the highest standards of safety and operational excellence.

“The brand-new AW109 simulator stands as a testament to our commitment to enhancing the capabilities of our pilots and ensuring the highest standards of safety and proficiency in aviation operations.”

According to Makanjuola, the AW109 helicopter holds a pivotal role in Nigeria’s aerospace landscape, being utilised by crucial entities such as the Navy, Air Force, NIMASA, as well as various civil operators.

“As such, the introduction of this simulator is a crucial step towards bolstering the competence and preparedness of our pilots who rely on this sophisticated aircraft for a diverse array of missions,” he said.

He noted that Caverton’s investment in the state-of-the-art simulator underscored the company’s dedication to fostering a culture of excellence and innovation within the Nigerian aviation industry.

Makanjuola added, “By providing our pilots with access to advanced training resources, we are not only elevating the standards of safety and operational efficiency but also positioning Nigeria as a regional hub for cutting-edge aviation training and expertise.”

Others who gave goodwill messages at the occasion included the Lagos Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, and the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogala, who was represented by Rear Admiral Bolaji Orederu.

Ogala remarked that Caverton’s effort was an achievement that had reduced the stress and cost involved in aircraft maintenance, repairs and training of Nigerian pilots abroad.

Appreciating the governor and other guests at the event, the Chairman of Caverton Offshore Support Group, Makanjuola, announced the coming of the third simulator.

According to Makanjuola, what he has done in the business was to guide the managers.

“We look for where the problem is and we provide a solution. What I do tell them is to always raise the bar. I tell them that you don’t wait for competitors to come and compete with you before you start raising your bar,” the chairman said.

Explaining the beauty of having the MRO and training centre with the simulator on the ground, 75-year-old Makanjuola said, before now, it cost Caverton $2m to train its pilots abroad but that with the simulator available in Nigeria and at the facility, “We don’t have to do it abroad anymore but right here”.

He expressed gratitude to the Nigerian government for creating the enabling environment leading to the success of the company.

He said, “When I started, I didn’t have the money. With the support we got, here we are. Today, if I go to Bank of Industry and ask for €5m, they won’t ask me what I want to use it for because they know that I pay back,” he said.

Other dignitaries at the event were the wife of the Chairman, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Yoyinsola Makanjuola; Chairman, Caverton Helicopters, Bello Gwandu; Group Chief Operating Officer, Rotimi Makanjuola; Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Limited,  Allen Onyema and former Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda.