Experts Query Aircraft Maintenance Systems

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By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK

Experts in the aviation industry said there is need for the Directorate of Civil Aviation to monitor the maintenance systems of small aircraft in the country to avoid crashes.

The comments come after some members of the public questioned whether Eros Airport poses a threat to human life in light of recent aircraft accidents in residential areas.

Two small aircrafts crashed in residential areas within three months.

The latest incident took place three days ago when six people were burnt to death when a plane they were flying in crashed in Windhoek’s Olympia suburb.

In October, a small plane crashed near the Trade Centre in Windhoek killing two people, the pilot and an Italian national who was visiting Namibia.

According to the Chief Operations Officer of African Civil Aviation Agency (AFROCAA), Captain Harry Eggerschwiler, the geographical location of the airport does not pose any danger to life, and small plane accidents cannot be linked to the positioning of the airport.

However, Eggerschwiler said there is a need to look into maintenance issues and how companies responsible for carrying out the work do it.

There is also need to see how pilots carry out safety checks before they take off, Eggerschwiler told New Era yesterday.

He maintained that Eros Airport in its current state meets required standards and its departure and landing space is commendable.

Eggerschwiler says most general (small) aviation accidents in Africa are a result of poor maintenance.

AFROCAA will conduct its independent investigations particularly on the airport to determine if there are perhaps any other contributing factors to small plane crashes.

Commenting on the matter the Deputy Director of Aviation Safety, Larry Makanza, says his directorate has always monitored the maintenance status of all aircraft in Namibia.

“We have annual audits, spot checks and liaise with all operators.

Maintenance is not an issue,” he said.

He added that the location of the airport is not unique to Namibia and if one looks at the history of Eros Airport, the airport was there before houses were built around it.

“We have a structured process to ensure that every aeroplane in the country is maintained according to the required standards. Maintenance is the least of our worries because it is adequately covered,” he added.

He maintained that the aviation industry in the country is the safest mode of transport with very few accidents reported although society tends to blow these cases out of proportion.

There are about 300 planes in the country.

A few years ago, Eros Airport was closed to heavy planes as it was found to be unsuitable to accommodate them.

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