Aircraft accident report makes recommendations

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Alvine Kapitako

Windhoek-The Ministry of Works and Transport has released its final report on the glider that took off from Bitterwasser Lodge (Hardap Region) on Christmas Eve in 2015 and crashed on the same day.

The glider’s wreckage was found two days later on a farm west of Uhlenhorst, Hardap Region.

In its recommendations the report, which was compiled by Thomas Herman, investigator in charge for the Directorate of Aircraft Accident and Investigation, recommends that the Bitterwasser flight centre should set up various training programmes.

He stressed the need for setting up programmes and procedures that will enable the glider pilot helper to identify safety concerns and report them immediately to the flight operation office for professional assessment before a flight.

He also recommends that the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) extend the mandate of their designated examiners in aviation medicine.

The examiners, Herman said, would carry out autopsies when required in an aircraft accident as detailed in the ICAO Manual of Aviation Medicine, which deals with medical factors in an aircraft accident investigation.

“On 24 December 2015, at around 11:18 UTC, a glider (self- launching) Ventus 2cM type took off from Bitterwasser on runaway 13 for a recreation cross-country private gliding flight with the pilot as sole occupant,” Herman says in the report.

The pilot, a 46-year old Swiss national, Maurizio Ivano Bofchetty Zurich, was the only victim of the accident.

The cause of the accident was identified as “loss of control”. “The glider was destroyed in the accident. There was no other damage,” said Herman.

The report says that although the pilot had flown several glider aircraft, no information on the introductory training of the pilot nor his flying experience on that type of aircraft was listed.

“The pilot’s flying experience obtained from the pilot logbook indicated that the pilot had flown 52:02 in the last 12 months calculated from 01/01/2015 till 12/12/2015. However, records from Bitterwasser indicate that the pilot had flown around 25 hours prior to the crash, but this information was not logged in the pilot logbook,” said Herman.

Additional information from the report indicate that from the interview conducted with the pilot helper, “the pilot did not look ready to fly on that day because he was making some mistakes and at some point, shivering, he was asked if he was okay and ready to continue with the flight to which he answered yes. But the helper further revealed that he observed that the pilot was wearing his parachute wrongly which he pointed out for correction.”

Nevertheless, the pilot’s licence was valid at the time of the accident as well as his pilot medical certificate.

“The aircraft’s airworthiness certificate and certificate of registration were valid at the time of the accident but the pilot did not file a flight plan, nor was any required,” Herman said.

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