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What's New In W. Africa (Nigeria)

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What's New In W. Africa (Nigeria)

Old 5th Jun 2005, 18:34
  #301 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
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I don't think there's any such thing as a caring employer any more. The old legends who started the companies for who many of us now work - the likes of the elder Schreiner, Bristow and Bonds are long gone. They were hard men but (usually) fair, knew their workers and although not always likeable, were people to be respected and looked after their pilots. Remember the old days of 'gardening leave' in Bristow for example. Now reading through so many threads it's obvious that accounts, with balance spreadsheets in place of hearts rule the aviation world. Funny hten, how in the 'bad ole days' people like Alan Bristow, Bob Schreiner et al still managed to turn in a tidy profit most years.

However, looking at the number of dinosaurs still working in Nigeria because these new modernised companies can't find anybody to go there at the cr*p wages they offer, I think 'Geoffers' is right in that in the very near future we're going to see a shift in the balance of power to the guys who are out there in the dust, the heat, the humidity, the dangerous conditions every day; returning at night to their lousy sub-standard accomodation with few amenities and illness inducing food: and not to the bean-counters in their Armani suits sitting in their air-conditioned offices taking long lunch breaks before going back (probably via their expensive mistresses ) to their expensive homes every night. Try spending a few months at the ACN estate in Port Harcourt with nothing like a tennis court, squash court, swimming pool or any form of amenity other than a dingy bar and a curry house and see how you feel all you sleek, managers with your company paid memberships at your local health clubs.

The times, they are a changing
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Old 5th Jun 2005, 20:03
  #302 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
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Report to that man over there!

One Xmas long ago I was down at the Aero Engineer's House, the one on the corner of Works Road in Ikeja. I was out there flipping stuff on the barbecue when this rumpled figure in a cranberry-coloured blazer made its way up the drive to report for duty.

I explained that I was actually nobody in Dutch terms, not even working for Aero, so that he should go see that man over there, pointing to an English engineer. Then I went back to flipping stuff.

A moment later my new friend was back! The Englishman, with typical English wit, had told him that I was the Chief Pilot and that I liked to test newcomers by seeing if they could discern my high position in the Company. Jeez! I gave up on trying to get rid of him and asked if there was something I could help him with.

'Yes. They took all my money at the airport and now I need $100 to pay for the taxi. No one came to meet me.'

I got a Dutch pilot friend to sort out the taxi driver and told this poor soul to have a Star and to sit down and relax.

My friend gave the taxi driver twenty naira and told him to eff off.

Then the taxi driver wanted a Star, too, so that I gave him one. My friend got very huffy about this, when I explained that Lagos taxi drivers are meant to steal and, anyway, it was Xmas.

It turned out that the man in the blazer was a junior accountant sent from Leyden to find out why the expense reports from Nigeria made such complicated reading and why receipts were often missing.

At the airport he had been bounced from one guy in uniform to the next, being ordered to show his dollars, guilders, pounds and whatever, when someone would shout, 'Dis is a seerious offence!', grab a handful of valuta and send him down the line. He ended up out on the curb with his head spinning and his wallet empty, when he met this cab driver. I always wondered what he told the head bean-counter when he got back.
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Old 5th Jun 2005, 22:33
  #303 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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the book

Chuks

Start writing the book now, now

Pleeeeeessse

Rgds

VSOP
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Old 6th Jun 2005, 01:35
  #304 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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I guess that now instead of silly young Dutchmen coming over from HQ and getting conned, it'll be silly young Canadians (though a certain huge Canadian organisation does seem to have taken on a number of silly young Dutchmen as part of its aquisition process)

A Canadian who obviously thought he was very important was recently in the ACN bar in Lagos demanding to know why he couldn't pay cash for a drink in $Canadian, and who did the bar staff think they were demanding someone as important as him to have to buy a bar card!!

I guess they'll eventually learn that Africa doesn't change - only the people who come over here and think they can change it all change - or leave
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Old 6th Jun 2005, 07:15
  #305 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
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I'll drink to that!

Once I finally outgrew having this mindset myself, which probably took longer than it should have, I have found Burr Number One under my saddle to be these deluded souls who appear on the Nigerian aviation scene with the assumption that they have been sent by higher powers to straighten out the mess.

All locals are assumed to be incompetent. Think of the Ookaballakonga running through the potted palms waving not-very-sharp spears on an episode of 'Jungle Jim'. That sort of person, actually....

For expatriates, have a think about Humphrey Bogart's character in 'The African Queen'. Put four-stripe bars on his shoulders and you would have your average expat captain. Why would anyone but such a total misfit loser spend any more time than necessary in Nigeria?

So, enter stage left Our Hero, come to save us!

One day I found myself in the Crew Room, scraping together some paperwork preparatory to committing aviation with my Twin Otter. Up on the board one of the local help had scrawled CAVOK for the weather at Warri Airstrip. Meaning, loosely, that the weather was okay, I guess.

Enter two bright young Brits busy blowing smoke. They eye this CAVOK disting and then ask the local help if he is fully aware of all the conditions this implies, harrumph! The poor fellow looks a bit baffled, since this is merely what someone has told him to write when the weather is 'okay'. They then proceed as a sort of Greek chorus to chant the various elements of CAVOK.

When they get to the end, looking extremely self-satisfied, I just think to myself, 'you forgot "no significant weather," you tossers!' but leave that unsaid. The local help then retreats to his little radio room, abashed and baffled in equal measure as our two British ATPL holders march off to sort out some other deficiency in the local scene. 'Sorted!'
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Old 6th Jun 2005, 12:15
  #306 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Question

The Caverton Agusta hasn't been seen or heard flying around Lagos for the last week or two. Is it still there? It isn't in Port Harcourt. I saw an advert in Helidata for a 109 that looked as if it had their logo on it. Have they sold it?
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Old 11th Jun 2005, 13:38
  #307 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Lagos
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Devil

What's happening with Shell in Nigeria now? Despite consistent rumours of the EC155 being replaced by the Bell 412 Shell still seem to be paying Bristow to convert pilots on to it. Still, Shell have a good history of white elephants lately - seems their last aviation adviser had a talent for it .
There was the Osubi project. Okay, it brought a proper airport to Warri and signalled the demise of the Twotter (except for NNPC), but at what cost? It's got to be the world's most expensive airport with helicopter landing fees being more like those of a Jumbo. Unless you belong to their 'club' (a snip at only US$100,000 a year) it costs over US$5,000 to land something like an S76 there . One good thing about it is that at least it stopped the dangerous practice of landing fixed-wings in the middle of town (with the road being closed every time!), but now with pressure on from the various Nigerian authorities to open all private airport like Osubi, Escravos and Eket to everybody, it's going to be more difficult to justify their rip-off prices. I suppose that unlike Chevron/Texaco, at least they allow other operators to land there.
There was the EC155 project. Shell's never been happy with the OEI performance of the machine, they've had to change about a zillion engines (at whose cost?), and they built huge landing strips for the thing all over the place (despite the fact that they then fly off to itsy little helipads out in the swamps!). The 412 replacement for it has been a strong rumor for quite a while now, but does anyone know what's happening there (212 Man?).
Then there was the Dornier 328 project. That's been so successful that most of them are no longer flying and Shell are block-booking seats with ACN every day. Are they going to replace them or are more pilots going to be laid off? Any thoughts Chuks?
Now, of course with a lot of the work on construction of the Bonga field complete the Snake Island heliport (again with a huge runway) has finally opened (how many months/years late, and how many thousands of $ over budget?). I'm sure the Bristow pilots and engineers who've enjoyed the long stay at the Lagos Sheraton with panoramic views of the KLM trolley dollies at the pool every day, will be delighted that they're now moving to the new quarters on Snake Island - should be really good for social life ). I wonder what the Shell shareholders think about it all - nothing probably as long as Shell keeps making huge profits (from exploiting the Nigerian people? - depends if you believe all the reports and documentaries about Shell's involvement with various of the military regimes and MOPOL).

However, despite this, there are still defections from ACN to Bristow almost weekly, especially by national pilots (looks as if Aero is paying for pilots to be trained in SA so they can go to Bristow). Maybe it's to do with the wonderful facilities at Areta estate. After having been housed there for over 25 years, the good old Aero management has still failed to provide any proper sporting or leisure facilities for its staff (even when it was making huge losses and being subsidised by the helicopter division the fixed wing division staff still had their nice little swimming pool in Ikeja). More than a year after CHC took over Schreiner, there's still nothing like a swimming pool, tennis or squash courts (things which Bristow has in almost every base it has in Nigeria). Maybe it's because Aero rotary still has the same old save-every-kobo management in place it's had for years and years . Even the pilots flying singles out of Escravos on a month/month tour have all these facilities (or the same thing at the Star King Hotel when they stay in Port Harcourt). Maybe ACN = A Cheap Nigerian company .

I see the Caverton Dauphin has been quite busy in Port Harcourt the last few days. Does this mean they're about to start their advertised shuttle operation there? The new Chief Pilot has been busy flying which must make it difficult for him to settle in to his new management responsibilities - don't they have any other 365 pilots? However, there's been neither sight nor sound of their 109 in Lagos for weeks. It used to be flying around the port in Lagos almost every day, and now nothing. I've heard rumors that it's being sold - maybe to recover some of the considerable money they must have spent on their helipad in the river at VI. Although there have been rumors of more Nigerian pilots joining them the only one so far seems to be the new Chief Pilot - maybe he will bring in some of 'his boys' soon? They certainly don't seem to be getting any expat pilots, probably because they offer the worst roster of any helicopter company in Nigeria - how long will it take them to realise that if you want to compete with the opposition you need pilots, not just contacts, and to get them you need to offer similar 'goodies' to the opposition. Okay, Bristow, Pan African and Aero don't have exactly the same contracts in terms of tour length and pay, but they're close enough that you can either chose to work a bit longer and get paid a bit more, or have the equal time that a lot of guys like. With Caverton their tours are far longer than anybody elses and the financial rewards, from what I hear, just don't make it worth while considering them. I hear their accomodation is pretty good, but again they have no proper sporting facilities there like Bristow and Aero do in Ikeja.

With the shortage of helicopter pilots (both national and expat) in Nigeria, I'm surprised none of the operators or oil companies have yet asked for a short-term dispensation to employ some lower time pilots as copilots while more Nigerians are sent to be trained. From reading PPRuNe there are lots of young pilots out there with a reasonable number of hours (but not enough to satisfy the oil companies) who would jump at the chance of getting a foot on the ladder, even if i's in Nigeria! I'm also surprised that nobody seems to be looking at reviving basic pilot training in Nigeria by talking over Zaria and getting it running properly as a training school again. Maybe it's time the Nigerian government looked at putting it out to private tender - I'm sure companies like CHC or OLOG would be able to set up and run a proper training school there (maybe even including some simulators, rather than spending a fortune sending pilots to America and Europe for recurrent sim - they could even use it for sim training for their pilots in all the other countries in the region like Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon, Angola etc.).
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Old 11th Jun 2005, 15:35
  #308 (permalink)  
 
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Tok,

Dear Boy...please do not confuse the issue with facts....it annoys the management.

A excellent analysis of the oil industry related aviaton business in Nigeria. The value of a simulators in Nigeria and a good flight training school is a very valid idea. The devil is in the details however.

The one comment I would make....and it is only trivial....take a moment and talk to some old hands at Bristow and get the low-down on the swimming pool at Eket situation. My recollection is the original pool at the airstrip was done by the staff with staff money as I recall. When that bit of accomodation got removed by bulldozers when the strip was improved....the pool was lost. A promise was made to replace it at Ekpan Estate...that never happened. The other operators are not all that golden hearted......but maybe better than ACN.

Aother thought is at Escravos...the pilots were encouraged not to use the facilities on their days off....in that it looked bad to those who worked every day. Thus, having access to sporting facilities might vary by your place on the food chain.
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Old 11th Jun 2005, 16:44
  #309 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Devil

So other than being Nigerian and a pilot, what credentials does the new Caverton Chief Pilot have for the job
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Old 11th Jun 2005, 16:46
  #310 (permalink)  
 
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Boy,

Chief Pilots have had lesser qualifications than that.....have seen some that were not much of a pilot but came from the right military service, eh, Nigel?
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Old 11th Jun 2005, 16:47
  #311 (permalink)  
 
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Wink

etienne,

I think you just listed them all
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Old 11th Jun 2005, 17:43
  #312 (permalink)  
 
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etienne, Tom,

Many Chief Pilots have been promoted to the job from the line. After all, you couldn't expect every Chief Pilot to have been one before could you? Wale has been in the industry for many years and in addition to being an IFR rated ATPL was also a licensed engineer before becoming a pilot. He is already qualified and very experienced on the Dauphin and I am sure his previous engineering experience will also be of value to Caverton. As a Nigerian he knows the country and how to deal with its people very well.
In addition to that, he reports to an Operations Manager who I am sure will be there to guide, monitor and help him. I'm told that the new Operations Manager is a very experienced offshore and EMS pilot with a lot of time in Africa and a lot of managerial experience. Together they should make a good team to take the company forward when its new helicopters arrive.
I didn't see the 109 much either before I left, so maybe it is up for sale. I wouldn't be surprised as I always thought it an odd choice for Nigeria. Although the Power version has good performance in hot and high conditions, its very limited range in a country with few places with fuel and low tail rotor if it is landing in towns and villages must surely make it less than ideal. Also, compared with something like a Twin Star, EC155 or Bell 427, the cabin is very small and claustrophobic. Actually, if the prive in Helidata is a genuine one, they could have got hold of another Dauphin for far less money.
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Old 11th Jun 2005, 20:02
  #313 (permalink)  
 
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Tokunbo,

Don't ask me; I've gone!!
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Old 11th Jun 2005, 21:27
  #314 (permalink)  
 
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Yewllll be baackkkkk!
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Old 11th Jun 2005, 21:58
  #315 (permalink)  
 
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Green book going into glass case marked "break glass in an emergency"
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Old 17th Jun 2005, 21:21
  #316 (permalink)  
 
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fish

Well, it seems Caverton haven't sold the 109 as it's been flying around Apapa again today. Their Dauphin seemed to be doing that for a while, but I haven't seen that for a bit now. I hear it's now based in Port Harcourt. When are they starting their shuttle there? It's been on their website for a long time now but it also seems to be 'a long time a'comin'. What of their 350s as well? That's been on their website for a long time now and I heard they may be leasing one from Heliportugal, same as the Dauphin. I also heard last week that they have a Bell 407 now. Anybody else heard about that?

The CHC people in Nigeria are still confused as to what their new pay will be. There seems to be some confusion over the area allowance. I expect the pay will be sorted out around the time the new swimming pool is finished at Areta
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Old 17th Jun 2005, 21:46
  #317 (permalink)  
 
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Anjo,

I thought the ACN bunch had an employee's web site endorsed by management that was to be the answer to information flow problems up and down the chain? What happened....someone pull the plug on that or does management not participate as it was suggested they did when it first started up?
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Old 18th Jun 2005, 12:06
  #318 (permalink)  
 
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SASless,

They do have an employee website and it actually works very well, but CHC is so big it takes a while for things to get up and down the chain, especially with the majority of the workers on 6:6 touring rosters. My comment (a bit tongue in cheek about the length of time it will take , was brought about by an advert for pilots in Flight International's online job search pages, advertising a base incentive pay of CAD $110 per day, as against the CAD $100 the staff were told it was going to be. Although there's some confusion, I think most people are happy with the way things are going, maybe enough to stop some defections to Bristow (as long as the swimming pool is finished by the end of the year of course )
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Old 29th Jun 2005, 12:17
  #319 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Snoop

CHC had a problem with their 365N1 last week. It had to do an emergency landing after heavy vibration and after they shut down, discovered it was a satrflex failure. IT could have been really serious and it's lucky nobody was injured. Starflex failures are pretty unusual on Dauphins. Has anybody else heard of inflight failures like this?

I hear that Caverton have lost another pilot. That's 3 already in less than a year of operating. It may not seem much, but it's a lot for a company with only 2 helicopters. What's going on there? I also hear they got damage to the fenestron of their Dauphin when it was in Port Harcourt for the Presidential visit recently. I still haven't seen one of their Astars in Nigeria yet, though they're advertising them on their website. I heard they had someone in Portugal to ferry them out. Are they on their way yet?
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Old 30th Jun 2005, 11:17
  #320 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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I hear say the british pilot with Caverton was fired because he had a fight with one of his 'local' girl friends that resulted to damages to the Company guest house property. I also saw the Dauphin flying out of M.M. Airport two days ago.
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