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Arik Air blazes the trail, trains Nigeria’s first A340-500 plane pilot

Arik Air has produced  the first Nigerian pilots to fly an Airbus A340-500 aircraft, and the feat was achieved by Captain Horace Millar-Jaja and Flight Officer Imomoh Bodeame who were recently trained at the Airbus Company in Toulouse, France.

Captain Millar-Jaja, who had a six weeks conversion course in Toulouse, had his maiden flight on the A340-500 aircraft from London Heathrow to Lagos on Sunday, July 19, 2009. His counterpart on the course, Flight Officer Imomoh Bodeame, however, had his maiden flight on A340-500 a week earlier on July 11, 2009, also from London Heathrow to Lagos. Before the historic flight by the duo, the highest version of an Airbus aircraft ever flown by a Nigerian pilot was A340-300.

Relieving the new experience, Captain Millar-Jaja, who before now was flying Arik Air’s Boeing series, said it was a milestone achievement to have been the first Nigerian pilot to fly A340-500. He said: “I’m delighted to have been the first Nigerian to fly this kind of aircraft. This has, no doubt, put Nigeria on the international standard in wire technology. It is also a milestone for a Nigerian airline having a set of crew to fly such an airplane from Europe to Nigeria”.

“As an old generation pilot, the technology was challenging because it wasn’t easy blending into the new generation drive”, Captain Millar-Jaja stressed. He pointed out that the A340-500 aircraft is high-tech equipment. “It is flown by button-wire technicalities, no control column but a joy stick like that of a video game. The difference in Airbus and Boeing is the difference in philosophy of simulation change”.

Flight Officer Imomoh shared the view of Captain Jaja on the A340-500. Imomoh, who had been flying on the Bombardier CRJ900 series in Arik Air’s fleet, said the experience was quite nice. “I really enjoyed the first experience on A340-500, the aircraft handles very well. I must point out that it is a different kind of mindset from the CRJ I had been flying. I enjoy flying CRJ, but Airbus is another challenge because it is a much bigger aircraft”, said Imomoh.


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