So much has happened at the hangar I can only share a few highlights.
Earlier in April we handled a beautiful American Gulfstream IV in Lagos and Abuja. I met the principle Mark Mobius who manages the Franklin Templeton Emerging Markets Fund. He was very relaxed and easy-going considering all the problems involved with handling a foreign registered aircraft in Nigeria. When you read his blog you will understand why. Mark travels to all his emerging market countries to do on site research. There is nothing like first hand knowledge. Seeing is believing.
I flew from Lagos to Abuja on the jump-seat with the pilots to help them through the maze of phony handlers and agents trying to rip off new-to-Nigeria foreign pilots while Mark and his entourage travelled into Abuja for a meeting. One “airport representative”, a young pretty girl, came up to the aircraft with an airport authority identification and an official FAAN receipt book trying to charge $760 for a $100 parking fee. I politely explained to her it was not my first time in Abuja. I paid the Federal Airport Authorities directly and got my receipt for $100.
After the investment team got back I had a chance to talk to Mr Mobius about my personal first hand experiences with the new economy in Nigeria. He was very interested in the phenomenal growth shown by the relatively new Nigerian oil and gas companies working the marginal fields sold off by the big 3 International Oil Companies ten years ago. With low overheads and no head office back home in Houston to send their profits to these local companies are finding themselves cash flush. The financial growth is staggering.
Franklin Templeton Emerging Market Mark Mobius’ Blog Part One
Franklin Templeton Emerging Market Mark Mobius’ Blog Part Two
Our Nigerian dispatchers Royal and Sunny handled the landing and domestic clearances for the Franklin Templeton flight.
Ironically we handle the Gulfstream IV of one the top emerging market oil support companies in Nigeria. The two Gulfstream IV’s were parked head to head in our hanger.
Mark Mobius’ Gulfstream IV N338MM
In November we handled the Bombardier Challenger 300 Demonstration Tour as they came to Lagos. Robert Habjanic of Bombardier organized the visit and we organized an Open House to accommodate the visitors and prospective clients.
The first day of the static display we had a tropical front go through with heavy rain and gusts to 80 mph. The wind veered 360 degrees in 20 minutes and knocked down large trees onto the airport roads. Luckily we had no damage.
It wasn’t long before the sun came out again drying the apron and allowing the visitors to experience our red carpet treatment.
Challenger 300 Cockpit Instrumentation
Right after the Bombardier display I caught a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt and Air Canada to Winnipeg. I was home for 48 hours and then flew to Dallas Fort Worth to attend the International Helicopter Safety Symposium. After the hot, sweaty and crowded encounter with the drunken riffraff trying to con their way into the First Class lounge and onto the front of the business class line to board the plane in Lagos I fully understood the reasoning behind executive jets. It’s not all that difficult a concept. Airlines, first class or not, do not deliver first class service. A serious fund manager like Mr Mobius would never get to visit the amount of countries he does by having to book via the airlines without an unreasonable amount of torture. Or maybe I am just getting old.
At the symposium, held at the Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel and sponsored by the International Helicopter Safety Team, I met up with Dr. Harold Demuren, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, who had been invited to chair a panel on the pros and cons of West Africa and Nigeria in particular becoming a regional partner in the IHST. Dr. D started off with a presentation giving the current statistics of the region and concluded that having the IHST on board would bolster the quality of the data for helicopter specific incidents. After the presentation Dr D launched into the panel question and answer period.
The question for the Japanese representative was How have you (the IHST) dealt with language problems? Unfortunately the Japanese member didn’t understand English.
For the final wrap up of the symposium the two Bills took turns giving their Safety Culture lecture. Bill Amelio of CHC has gotten more polished since the last time I heard him but Bill Chiles of Bristow is always convincing. He has walked the green mile on the Gulf of Mexico drill rigs and knows the value of a safety culture first hand. When I was setting up the Pan African Airlines safety management system in 2004 I used to answer the question of “How do you know safety management works” by saying “Because I medevac less and less injured oil workers off the drill rigs.” When the oil companies started to change their culture and forced the drill rigs to change their culture the injuries almost came to a halt. Like Bill Chiles will tell you, “If it works on drill rig it will work for a helicopter company.”
Bill C checking out Bill A’s presentation.
Safety culture aside I ended up with a severe chill by the last hour of the safety symposium. I got so cold in the conference room I had to leave before the final wrap up. Even a hot bath couldn’t warm me up and I crawled into bed with a bath robe on to see if I could warm up that way. I physically could not get out from under the covers for over two hours. Even if I moved one inch away from my warm spot that I had curled up into I would start to shake uncontrollably until I found my warm spot again.
It finally dawned on me that I had malaria and I knew if I didn’t get to my Coatrum I could end up critically ill. I started carrying Coatrum in 2006 when a pilot friend of mine died while attending Flight Safety in Wichita. By the time the hospital staff figured out he had malaria he was in a coma and never recovered. I follow the World Health Organization recommendations for self diagnostics and self administration.
When I did manage to get up I shook so hard I thought I would sever my muscles from my bones. About an hour after I took the Coatrum the chills subsided and turned into a raging fever. For an hour I soaked the sheets and my face and scalp turned flush red.
By this time it was 4:00 am so I got up had a hot shower and packed to catch my 6:30 am flight from Dallas to Toronto and home to Winnipeg. I am not sure how I made it but needless to say I spent two days in bed at home before getting up enough energy to put up the winter fence in my front yard. It snowed the next day. Welcome home.