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OmniBlu Aviation partners DPR on search and rescue for oil firms

Omni-Blu Aviation Limited, an indigenous aviation company, has partnered with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to provide Search, Rescue and Surveillance (SeRAS) operations to oil firms across the country.

Speaking during the flag-off of the SeRAS services in Lagos, James Daniel, managing director, Omni-Blu Aviation, explained that whoever wants to operate in an aviation environment requires an Air Operating Certificate (AOC) and Omni Blu has that requirement.

Daniel further explained that Omni-Blu Aviation is partnering with DPR in terms of providing the licence for them to fly and providing the technical support as a result of Omni-Blu’s experience in the oil and gas industry and search and rescue services.

He disclosed that Omni-Blu is the only company that has been authorised and approved by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) to operate ambulance services and SeRAS is an extension of that capability, which is what the company is bringing to the table.

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“This is just the first phase. There will be other aircraft that will be brought into the fleet and Omni Blu will be the operator providing the technical expertise to carry out this venture,” he said.

The MD Omni-Blu said the company will be running the SeRAS operation with two aircraft with the aim to expand soon, adding that as soon as the centre gets its own set of aircraft, the next phase will be to get three AW-139 aircraft.

Speaking on how the search and rescue operations work, he said, “If an oil rig catches fire for example and you need to evacuate people from there, you have to start this with a severe risk assessment because there are risks to the lives already on the platform and there are also risks to those operating the machines. Therefore, the training levels are going to be top notch. The capabilities of the pilots will also be top notch.

“This is a three-man crew. We have two pilots and what we call the winch man. This requires some of the highest amount of team work because you are under extreme pressure and time constraint. So, it is very necessary that the team work seamlessly and as one.

“Search and rescue is more intricate. The helicopter will be able to come to the position, it will remain like in a high hover and we may have to winch people down, put them into baskets, winch them back up and come close to the water, amongst others. There are so many scenarios that only highly trained personnel can execute such a project. There is a centre for this operation here in Lagos, one in Osubi, one in Boni and two other centres.”

Daniel disclosed that SeRAS is a long term initiative and it has come to stay. “As long as we are excavating oil and gas, we will need this service and the vision of the CEO is to grow this into a regional support,” he added.

Akin Olateru, commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) said search and rescue is a big deal as it saves lives and properties and enhances productivity.

Olateru stressed that every nation needs to take search and rescue seriously, adding that this is one of the road maps of Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation.

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