Air Botswana not troubled by ‘elderly’ aircrafts

The National Airliner, Air Botswana is not troubled by an ‘elderly’ fleet of aircrafts because they are well maintained.

Speaking at an introductory press conference this week the newly appointed GM, Ben Dahwa said they were confident that their fleet of ATR 42-500 advanced turbo propeller aircrafts and BAe 146 jet can still operate to a full lifespan of 30 years.“On the concern of the fleet age and safety I can broadly say an aircraft that is over 15 years is going to be maintenance thirsty and a cost burden.

Talking of the type of aircrafts we operate, they have a life capability of 30 years and beyond,” he said.

Addressing the media on Wednesday at the airline headquarters, Dahwa said that when they did a market survey, there was nothing to indicate that Air Botswana aircrafts were older than those of their competitors operating the same equipment elsewhere in the world.

“Ours are currently standing at 17 years of age and they are not very old. Our aircrafts are younger than those of our South African competitors.

It’s really about the level of investment that we may want to put in to continue maintaining these aircrafts to levels of acceptability,” Dahwa said.

Defending the safety of the aircrafts, the general manager further said that their maintenance is extremely safe and “our restructured metal is very well maintained.

Lately we are putting five of our aircrafts into internationally acclaimed heavy maintenance programmes and all these are well documented and well controlled.

We are doing it with reputable facilities of high international standard in Europe.

In terms of safety there is no need for the general flying public to be concerned.

My only concern is of the interior which does not look like those of our competitors but mechanically, our aircrafts are excellent.”

Asked about their Johannesburg bound aircraft which caught fire in one of the engines forcing it to land this Tuesday, Dahwa said such incidents should be expected.

“For certain I can confidently say the plane did not crash land.

It was safely landed at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport 20 minutes after take off. It was a well controlled landing.

The pilots detected a fire warning in one of the engines, shut the engine and alerted the towers they were returning to land. Our aircrafts are so safe that they can be flown on one engine.

The concerned aircraft has four engines and we had a lot for landing maneuver,” said the general Manager.

Dahwa assured passengers that Air Botswana will work hard to ensure such incidents do not occur even though a similar incident occurred last year when a Johannesburg bound aircraft’s engine exploded on take-off.

The aircraft was forced to return for landing at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport 30 minutes later.

At the time, It was the third incident within six months, The Voice was reliably informed.

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