Saturday, October 23, 2021

Accident prone aviation school prompts accusations of cover-ups

Scores of students from International Aviation Solution (IAS) have on a number of occasions escaped death by a whisker because the Ministry of Transport and Communications has failed to ground the school’s aircrafts despite a number of accidents with one of them resulting in a fatal crash this week, Sunday Standard investigations have revealed.

Insiders at the Ministry this week described the fatal accident involving a female student that occurred at Lentswelatau on Thursday as a disaster that had always been waiting to happen.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications on Friday issued a press release confirming that on 6th July a “Sling II aircraft, registered A2-USC, belonging to International Aviation Solutions – Aviation Academy, was involved in a fatal accident just outside Lentsweletau in the Kweneng District.”

Sunday Standard has turned up information showing that another aircraft, a sling II model was involved in an accident about two months ago, but the Ministry did not issue a public statement as per international requirements. This has fuelled allegations that the ministry is involved in a cover-up, possibly treating the school with “kid gloves.”

Preliminary investigations showed that the accident that happened to months ago was a result of a hard landing by one of the students that damaged the propeller and wheels.

Commenting on the fatal accident that occurred in Lentswelatau this week, aviation industry insiders expressed concern that it was only a matter of time before a life was lost.

Contacted for a comment, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Kabelo Ebineng said  he did not have details.

By detail, Ibineng was commenting on reports that his Ministry was treating IAS with kid groves despite a number of accidents involving its aircrafts.

The press release from Ibineng’s ministry further states that the aircraft was on a routine solo flight training at the General Flying Area when the accident occurred. “A lady trainee pilot lost her life in the accident.”

It also states that “the cause of the accident is yet to be established and a team of air safety investigators from the Ministry have left for the accident site to conduct investigation into the circumstances surrounding the occurrence.”

(Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) spokesperson Modipe Nkwe confirmed the Letswelatau fatal accident but wouldn’t be drawn into details saying while they were regulators they did not deal with investigations involving accidents.

 IAS Director Thatayaone Seduke did not answer calls or reply text messages sent to him by this publication nor did he respond to  WhatsApp messages.

This is not the first time that the Ministry of Transport and Communications and CAAB had been accused of treating IAS with kid gloves following aircraft accidents.

In 2015, Sunday Standard reported that The Ministry of Transport and Communication and the CAAB were accused of treating  IAS with kid gloves following a PA-28 aircraft, registered A2-AJG and near collision by trainees at the same school.

Insiders at both the Ministry and the authority believed that the school’s aircraft fleet should have been grounded pending investigations. IAS, whose Director  is Thatayaone Seduke, was given tenders by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) running into tens of millions of Pula under controversial circumstances.

At the time, insiders said that despite advice by some experts that the incident should be treated with the seriousness it deserves as it involved an aircraft, the Ministry treated the matter lightly.

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