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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Air Botswana needs to clean up its act!

By the Editor - Mmegi Online

Picture Credit: www.gvpedia.com

Just last Friday, an Air Botswana flight had complications as it was preparing to land at South Africa's OR Tambo International Airport.

According to reports, the flight was descending when it experienced failure in the engine.  The engine lost power and its supply was erratic, hence the Captain made a decision to switch the engine off altogether and land the plane using one engine. Air Botswana, unsurprisingly, has sought to downplay this episode. The plane, we are told, made a return journey back to Gaborone the same day without much trouble after a team of engineers had attended to it.

The Friday incident comes two weeks after the engine of another aircraft failed just a moment before take-off at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport on August 11. The Commercial Director Joe Motse and the Director of Engineering Johnson Selerio say the Ministry of Transport and Communications is investigating the first incident but it might take a long time before a report is released because the investigation involves a lot of experts, some of whom may not be in Botswana.

The engine that failed had just been maintained and was put back into use last July with two thirds of its prescribed flying time still untouched, they say. The Air Botswana officials inform us that the airline has a good maintenance programme prescribed by both the manufacturer and the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) while its maintenance is carried out by certified Air Botswana engineers.

Nevertheless, viewed together, these episodes are a major cause for concern. Their frequency, regardless of how minor they may allegedly or truly be, will cause a major dent in confidence in our national carrier.

We have to recall that it was only recently that Air Botswana received certification from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Therefore, we have to caution that progress has been slow but Air Botswana needs to win back confidence in its services.

At one stage, Air Botswana was known for impeccable safety standards and it is regrettable that this is not true any more. We believe Air Botswana, in real practical terms, not just PR Management strategies, must address these incidents. The bottom line is that safety cannot be compromised.

Afterall, Botswana is opening up its economy and this country expects the international community to descend into our Gaborone and other major centres as we seek to diversify our economy. Without a credible national airline, these objectives will remain a mirage.

Sourced from: www.mmegi.bw

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