Thursday, March 4, 2021

Questions over Gov’t sponsorship for pilots training with local institution

The Department of Tertiary Education Financing (DTEF) in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development has failed to account for the number and value of sponsorship given to students enrolled with International Aviation Solutions, a local flight training institution, The Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) has also failed explain why the flight training institution is allowed to offer commercial license courses while it is not licensed to do so, violating the authority’s regulations. DTEF Director Marcus Maedza refused to respond to Sunday Standard questions and instead referred all queries to International Aviation Solutions. Sunday Standard sought to establish the number of students that were sponsored by DTEF and the value of the sponsorship and clarification on allegations that the students are behind the training schedule as stipulated in their contracts.

Information gathered thus far indicates that DTEF sponsored 15 students to the tune of P15 million with P3.5 million paid upfront for phase one of the training billed for four months. The students were enrolled for courses that were to run for four months and the students are said to be behind schedule. Hence the course is expected to run for nine months and indications are that more students are being enrolled for 2014. For his part, CAAB spokesperson Modipe Nkwe, could not explain how his organisation allowed International Aviation Solutions to offer commercial licenses while it was only issued with a license to train pilots for private licenses. On its website the International Aviation Solution states that it offers Commercial Pilot Multi-Engine, Certified Flight Instructor/Instrument Instructor/Multi-Engine Instructor.

In contrast to information on International Aviation Solutions’ website, Nkwe said Botswana Flying Academy (which is linked with International Aviation Solutions) is the only flight training academy issued with Approved Training Organisation (ATO) certificate by CAAB which allows them to train pilots up to Private Pilot Licence level. Nkwe said International Aviation Solutions is undergoing the five phase process towards certification. “The current relationship between International Aviation Solutions and Botswana flying Academy in accordance with certificate of incorporation is such that Aviation Solutions is trading as Botswana Flying Academy hence benefiting from the privileges of the existing ATO Certificate,” he explained. However, Nkwe could not shed light on insiders’ arguments that a license cannot be transferred to another business; hence Botswana Flying Academy should be an entity on its own although IAS has purchased shares, it should continue trading as Botswana Flying Academy.

It is understood that transactions should be conducted by Botswana Flying Academy and not IAS as per CAAB regulations. Sunday Standard has learnt International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is likely to take action against CAAB when its officials visit the country for inspection sometime this year because the authority is violating some safety standards. Documents passed to Sunday Standard also show that International Aviation Solutions is conducting financial transactions under the name of the institution’s former director even after he has long joined the CAAB as Flight Operations Manager. Contacted for comment, Darryl Elliston expressed shock that he was still listed as director of the company adding that he was aware that the business was and continues to be awarded lucrative contracts from the government. “Mr. Thatayaone Seduke made an offer to purchase 100 percent shares of the company in 2012 and built on the reputation and value of the brand. I signed over the company to him in 2013,” he said. Elliston added that as far as he was aware, he was no longer the director of the flight institution and he informed CAAB of that shortly after signing over shares. “But it was recently brought to my attention that financial transactions were being conducted in my name.

Even a proof of payment for purchase of an aircraft was conducted in my name,” he said. Seduke had promised to respond to Sunday Standard questions sent three weeks ago but had not at the time of going to press. It has also emerged that at the time when Botswana Qualification Authority )(formerly BOTA) issued training number to International Aviation Solution it was under the impression that IAS was using Botswana Flying Academy to be accredited and all training would be done under Botswana Flying Academy. Botswana Qualifications Authority’s Communication & Public Education Officer Mmona Tshweu said while they accredited International Aviation Solution, “at the time of issuing the letter of accreditation, the letter was issued under BOTS Flying Academy; it was however corrected, on advice from the institution, and issued under International Aviation Solution.” “International Aviation Solutions is accredited with the Authority. According to the Certificate of Registration issued on 26 July 2013, a copy of which has been availed to BQA, International Aviation Solutions carries on business under BOTS Flying Academy. Note that is the business name and not ‘Botswana Flying Academy,’” said Tshweu.

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