Tuesday, October 26, 2021

ICAO grounds Air Botswana flying coffin

The Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) allowed Air Botswana to transport passengers in a flying coffin.

Sunday Standard was however unable to establish why CAAB did not enforce operational requirements and safety obligations by grounding one of the aircraft before they were instructed to do so by the International Civil Aviation Authority(ICAO).

CAAB spokesperson Modipe Nkwe confirmed that during the recently concluded ICAO Audit on Botswana, one of the Air Botswana Aircraft was found to have had some repair/modification undertaken that required a CAAB capability approval issued to the entity that carried out the task.

“The Air Botswana aircraft was grounded until an entity with the capability approval was identified by Air Botswana to re-inspect the work done and release the aircraft to service,” said Nkwe. He would not be drawn into discussing why they didn’t ground the plane before inspection and audit by the team from ICAO.

Minister of Transport and Communications Kitso Mokaila also confirmed that one of Air Botswana aircraft was grounded after ICAO expressed concerns that one of the aircraft was not fit to operate.

He said ICAO was in Botswana last week as part of its routine duty to ensure that the air industry complies with the standard set out by the Aviation sector.

“They were here to audit Air Botswana and the industry in general to see if there is indeed compliance with the international standard,” said Mokaila

Mokaila said after ICAO raised the red flag, it was then the duty of CAAB to ground the aircraft in question to verify and fix any problems which was picked by the international auditors.

The Minister said CAAB is mandated to as per the international standard to ensure that the safety of the aircraft and those of passengers of Air Botswana are protected.

He said as a way of ensuring that Air Botswana is attractive, the Board and management of Air Botswana also took a decision to re-fleet Air Botswana.

“Currently we have four Aircraft which is ATR 42-500 and ATR 72-500 and we are now in talks or negotiations with some suppliers and I will be buying ATR 72-600 which is a more advanced one in the market. We are also in negations with the supplier to buy 170 Seaters jet and they will be delivered before end of November this year,” said Mokaila.

For his part, Nkwe said that Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana under the Safety oversight obligation carries out continuous surveillance on all Air Operators certified to operate under the Civil Aviation Regulations, ICAO Annexes, Standards and Recommended Practices, Air Botswana included.

“Any identified finding or observation is notified to the operator during debriefing after each audit, scheduled or ad hock inspections. The operator is given timelines to provide the Authority (CAAB) with a corrective action plan and rectification timelines as stipulated in the procedures as laid down within the Civil Aviation Regulations,” said Nkwe.

He said CAAB continuously and regularly carries out its Safety Oversight responsibility to the highest international standards as attested by the good ICAO Audit reports and meets the Effective Implementation of Civil Aviation Regulations and ICAO Annexes, Standards and Recommended Practices.

“The finding was confined to one aircraft and did not affect Air Botswana’s operation as an airline or its Air Operator Certification privileges and hence its operation of other aircraft in its fleet was not affected at all. The issue with the one aircraft that was grounded had no bearing on the rest of the fleet,” said Nkwe.

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