US’s superstar survives scary Air Botswana landing

10 Sep 2018

US superstar Musiq Soulchild and his fellow passengers must be counting their blessings following a landing gear failure by an Air Botswana flight at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) recently. Speaking after the ordeal the soul singer said they had to delay landing for approximately an hour as the captain tried to identify the problem.

According to Air Botswana (AB) the flight from Johannesburg (BP 204) operated by aircraft leased from CemAir experienced a landing gear indicator alert. The aircraft was about to touch down at SSKIA when the pilot noticed an indication which showed that the right gear was not down in preparation for landing, AB told Sunday Standard.

“As per operational procedure, the Captain made a decision to abort the landing in order to investigate further,” said Thabiso Leshoai, AB Corporate Communications.

“The Captain also accordingly informed the SSKIA Air Traffic Controller (ATC) of his actions and subsequently briefed the passengers on board.”

Leshoai said the Captain followed the quick reference handbook guidelines to ensure adherence to the required actions as per Standard Operational Procedures (SOP).

He said in compliance with established aviation standards, passengers were briefed to make the necessary preparations that apply to such incidents adding that the aircraft subsequently landed without incident and that after landing, all the landing gear indications went to normal, confirming the landing gear was down and locked.

“Air Botswana takes great pride in its safety record. Passenger safety remains our number one priority and the driving force for all of the airline’s operations. In fact, Air Botswana has been awarded a 7 star rating by the aviation industry renowned airlineratings.com. The rating is based on a comprehensive analysis utilizing information from the world’s aviation governing body and leading associations along with governments and crash data.”

While such an incident may sound extremely dangerous, a quick research has indicated that the landing gear failures are in fact way too common in the aviation industry. “When an aircraft is unable to touch down with its landing gear fully extended it must perform a gear-up or ‘belly’ landing. Such a landing does carry a small risk - there is likely to be damage to the aircraft; it could conceivably catch fire or flip over if it lands too hard. Bad weather or high winds can increase the danger,” The Telegraph.

“However, such landings are normally safe if performed correctly, as numerous case studies show.” The search indicates gear-up landings are surprisingly common, and are not always made due to mechanical error. Occasionally a pilot would simply forget to lower it. The US soul singer, Soulchild, was in Botswana to perform at the Gaborone International Music & Culture week (GIMC) jazz festival.