The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) demonstrated its prowess last weekend with the successful assemblage of a large Caverton helicopter imported from Sikosky Company, USA.
The helicopter which was cleared at the Port Terminal and Multipurpose Limited (PTML), Tincan Island, Apapa, Lagos, gave a boost to the capacity of the Nigerian maritime sector.
Caverton Helicopters Limited recently acquired a Sikorsky S-92 Helicopter (SN-920299), a 19-seater heavy helicopter, which is the first to be operated by a wholly indigenous African company via the PMTL Terminal at the Tin Can Island Port, Lagos.
Caverton Helicopters’ management had approached the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and PTML to permit its engineers to use the port’s premises to assemble the helicopter that had arrived in parts, having obtained all the required documents.
The aircraft was re-assembled and flown out of the Tin Can Island Port, today December 31, 2020. It is the first time an aircraft will be so reassembled and flown out of any of the ports and the Authority said it was proud of the feat as it congratulated Caverton Helicopters and PMTL.
The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, at the end of the programme expressed the excitement of management at the achievement.
Usman who was represented by the Port Manager of Tin-Can Island Port, Engr Yunusa Ibrahim Anji, said: “Well as we all know, though this is the first time, this type of event will take place within the terminal. Never before, a helicopter component was brought to the Port assembled within the port and took off in the Port.
“It is a very big significance for the Nigerian Ports Authority, because it shows that our aim of doing business is being achieved, and that is the focus of the present management, just as the owner had told you, they dare to move the helicopter through the road, they know how much it would cost them, but now the port has provided enabling environment, for them to assemble it which they have done and now they are going to take off from here without extra expenses incurred on the road to their destination.
“So it’s a great thing to the Nigerian Ports Authority. It saves time, it gives us that good name that we have a good environment in terms of everything, even the safety aspect of it, we monitored it and it was done successfully, so it’s a good thing to Nigerian Ports Authority.”
Explaining the vital role the helicopter will play in the oil and gas industry, being the nation’s cash cow, the Chief Engineer of Caverton Helicopters, Sank Ahmadu pointed out that this was the first time an indigenous company is acquiring the machine permanently for the purpose of supporting the oil and gas sector.
Describing the features of the helicopter, Ahmadu said: “This helicopter is called the S-92, made by Sikorsky, US. It has 19 seats and two crew seats as well, it also has an observer seat. This aircraft is one of the very best in its category of aircraft for oil and gas businesses.
“The Sikorsky S-92 machine was acquired by Caverton Helicopters being the first indigenous company in Africa to actually get it.
”Normally, all the multinational companies that have operated this machine in Africa were brought in for sole business of making it work and taking it back. Caverton Helicopters has brought in this machine as an indigenous company and is going to keep it on and on and on within the country, to increase capability and support for the oil and gas ministry.”
Ahmadu further said the helicopter was shipped from the US, to Lagos Nigeria, at the port. Unfortunately because of its size, the officials could not take it out of the port to their facility looking at the safety aspect of it.
“So, what we did was, instead of taking it out and going through the risk of the road, we decided to couple it here, following all the safety precautions as recommended by both the civil aviation authority as well as the ports authority, for us to achieve this feat.
“We’ve been able to do that, we’ve reassembled the plane, we have checked everything and the plane is now ready to depart safely to the Ikeja Airport.”
Caverton Helicopters’ management commended the NPA and PTML for their unflinching support throughout the period the machine arrived and successfully coupled. “We are grateful to the management of NPA that has allowed us to discover another ease of doing business.”
The General Manager, PTML, Mr Babatunde Keshinro, further disclosed the swift actions taken to pave way for this maiden venture.
He said: “The helicopter arrived on the December 19, 2020, into our terminal, and of course our operation is 24hours. Promptly discharged and the cargo became available to be coupled from 28th because for a fact the helicopter arrived one part and the other coupling parts arrived differently.
”So it’s very necessary for the cargo to go through the mandatory custom’s clearance, so it’s after the custom’s clearance having obtained the necessary approval from the Nigeria Customs that we will now collaborate with them to provide the terminal facility for them to couple the helicopter as it is.
“So it arrived, with the body in one part, then the blade and other spares in other series of consignment. Now they are all joined to be a fully built helicopter as you have seen it today.”