Arik Air has producedÂ 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 Airâ€™s Boeing series, said it was a milestone achievement to have been the first Nigerian pilot to fly A340-500. He said: â€œIâ€™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 Nigeriaâ€.
â€œAs an old generation pilot, the technology was challenging because it wasnâ€™t easy blending into the new generation driveâ€, Captain Millar-Jaja stressed. He pointed out that the A340-500 aircraft is high-tech equipment. â€œIt 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 changeâ€.
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 Airâ€™s fleet, said the experience was quite nice. â€œI 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 aircraftâ€, said Imomoh.