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Home » News » Opinions & Columns » Response to article “Khama’s Air Botswana stunt that endangered passengers” Botswana Gazette 20-26 September 2017

Response to article “Khama’s Air Botswana stunt that endangered passengers” Botswana Gazette 20-26 September 2017

Air Botswana considers the feature article in the Botswana Gazette dated 20-26 September 2017 as deliberate misinformation and an assault on its professional credibility as a licensed scheduled airline. 

The airline insists the correct facts be stated to set the record straight regarding the airline’s low-level fly past which was undertaken during the 2017 Race for Rhinos event.

On May 31 2017, Air Botswana received a request from the organisers of Race for Rhinos to perform a low-level fly past during the event which was to be held on July 1st. Air Botswana then considered the request firstly in relation to its status as an approved AOC and subsequently within the operational and safety limits of what the CAAB would approve. It is then that in accordance with regulations and guidelines, permission was sought from the CAAB to perform the fly past and approval was granted by the authority.

Contrary to the article’s assertion that “the CAAB approved a route change at the eleventh hour,” the correct version of events is that as per the CAABs requirement, a flight plan was filed within the required time period; in this instance, a day before the scheduled flight, with a specific request to fly at 500 feet, the minimum allowed under CAAB regulations for requests of this nature. In addition, the flight plan detailed the specific diversion points along the route. 

Similarly, Air Botswana’s corporate quality and safety department conducted a risk analysis of the flight plan which took into consideration the area surrounding where the fly past was to take place.

The flight in question BP 030 therefore took off on 1 July 2017 from Gaborone to Maun with an approved flight plan. Communication of the same flight plan was made to all passengers on board at the start of the flight, as has been confirmed by the captain of the flight. 

Air Botswana is therefore disturbed by the assertion made in the article about “information and an instruction given to one of the senior captains to make a fly past in the Lekhubu area.”  This is absolutely false and a total fabrication.

The facts are that both pilots knew of the fly past well in advance of the flight. At no time was there ever an instruction given by anyone outside of Air Botswana’s flight operations. 

For the record, both the captain of the flight and first officer are seasoned pilots who can go on record about the specifics of the flight on that day to help clarify the truth rather than the fabricated assertions made in the article.

The decision to do the fly past was not made in-flight nor was there ever an instruction received to do so. Previous fly pasts, including a similar one conducted during the 2016 Race for Rhinos were conducted within pre-approved guidelines and conditions from the CAAB.

Air Botswana wishes to reiterate that as a commercial airline, it is bound by the guidelines and provisions of the local regulator CAAB and by extension, ICAO. 

As such the airline cannot, and will never be instructed by any third party to operate in a manner that puts in jeopardy its commercial license or contravenes either of the provisions as mentioned before. ENDS

Source : BGCIS

Author : BGCIS

Location : GABORONE

Event : Rebuttal

Date : Sep 20 Wed,2017


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