• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

Inside Flight 100’s mission to transform Nigeria’s aviation sector, reduce reliance on foreign expertise

A shortage of qualified technical and cabin crew is impacting the aviation industry globally.

While projections by Airbus and Boeing, aircraft manufacturers suggest that Africa will need over 22,000 additional technical personnel and 26,000 cabin crew members within the next ten years, Nigeria finds itself lacking in the capacity to meet this demand, as pointed out by Toni Ukachukwu, founder of Airborne Entertainment.

Recognising this critical gap, Ukachukwu, the founder of Airborne Entertainment, embarked on a mission to revolutionise the aviation landscape through Flight 100, a reality TV show poised to reshape careers and elevate the industry.

“This gap inspired us to create Flight 100,” Ukachukwu explained in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay. “Flight 100 isn’t just another reality TV show; it’s a catalyst for transforming the aviation sector. Our mission is clear: to close the skill gap, foster career development, and inject vitality into an industry grappling with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The aviation expert highlighted the repercussions of the pandemic on the sector, noting the exodus of skilled manpower, exacerbating an already pressing issue. “What Flight 100 aims to achieve is to increase capacity within the aviation industry and bridge the gap,” Ukachukwu emphasised.

Flight 100 stands out from conventional reality shows, primarily focusing on capacity building and career development. Unlike programs centered solely on entertainment, Flight 100 is a purpose-driven initiative backed by extensive research highlighting the global skill gap in aviation.

“In the aviation sector, the prevalent practice of talent poaching undermines efforts to build a sustainable workforce,” Ukachukwu elaborated. “We’re shifting the paradigm by investing in training and nurturing talent from within. Flight 100 aims to cultivate a pool of homegrown professionals, reducing the industry’s reliance on foreign expertise.”

Reacting to this development, Festus Keyamo, Minister of Aviation, emphasised its alignment with national priorities and its potential to revolutionize the aviation sector. “Flight 100 represents a crucial step towards human capacity development and economic empowerment,” Keyamo said. “By nurturing local talent and reducing reliance on foreign expertise, this initiative embodies our commitment to fostering sustainable growth and innovation within the aviation industry.”

Furthermore, integral to Flight 100’s approach is mentorship, with experienced veterans guiding aspiring aviators through their journey. “Mentorship is invaluable in navigating the complexities of a career in aviation,” Ukachukwu emphasised.

Reflecting on the program’s potential impact, Olumide Ohunayo, an aviation analyst, underscored its role in curbing capital flight, empowering local talent, and stimulating economic growth. “Reality shows are meant for the youths, to draw them and attract them to the aviation sector. In this context, Flight 100 brings information, education, and motivation needed to build a base of homegrown talents.

“Flight 100 contributes to reducing reliance on foreign pilots and engineers, thereby bolstering our economy and fostering generational prosperity,” he added.

Speaking further, Ukachukwu noted that gender inclusivity lies at the heart of Flight 100’s ethos, welcoming individuals passionate about aviation, regardless of gender or background. “We aim to democratise the aviation sector, making it accessible to all who aspire to soar,” he said.

In contrast to traditional reality shows offering material rewards, Flight 100 provides participants with a career path. Winners receive full sponsorship for training as engineers or pilots, coupled with employment opportunities with airline partners.

“The essence of Flight 100 is to empower dreams,” Ukachukwu stated. “We’re breaking barriers and paving the way for aspiring aviators to realise their potential, irrespective of their financial status or background.”