Posted on September 30, 2004

‘Failed’ Student Prangs Plane

Erika Gibson, (SA), Sep. 28

Pretoria — An aviation student at the airforce’s central flying school — who was earlier allowed to continue his training despite failing numerous exams — damaged a training aircraft in an accident at the school on Tuesday.

The student is unscathed, but apparently the Astra training aircraft’s undercarriage and nose-wheel have been ripped off, the propeller is stuck in the ground, and one wing is damaged.

Beeld has learnt the student was one of those who was involved in a high-level investigation into racism earlier this year after instructors said he would never be able to qualify as a pilot.

The policy is that during training, if a student fails an exam as well as a supplementary exam, he or she is taken off the course automatically.

In the case of this student, he failed both exams, but higher authorities felt he would benefit from 40 additional hours of training.

After completing the 40 hours, he attained 46%, but needed 60% to pass.

Same mistake

Higher authorities did not accept the results, and the student was allowed to continue.

On Tuesday morning, the student apparently made exactly the same landing mistake as before.

He pulled up the air brake while he was supposed to take off again directly after landing. A crosswind aggravated the problem, and the aircraft ended up making a crash landing.

Experts said on Tuesday that it is only a question of time before people died because of incompetence.

Only ‘light’ damage

Lieutenant Ronald Maseko, an air force spokesperson, said on Tuesday afternoon a board of investigators had been set up after the accident.

According to him the aircraft had only “light” damage.