Posted on October 1, 2004

SAAF: ‘Quotas, Not Quality’

Erika Gibson, (SA), Sep. 30

Pretoria — Former flight instructors said on Wednesday the air force’s focus was no longer on quality, but rather on statistics and quotas.

This came after a student pilot crashed a plane on Tuesday — after having failed his flight test three times.

It is believed the student, from the Central Flight School in Langebaan Road, is the first to crash a Pilatus Astra training plane.

According to the former instructors, the air force was faced with the same quota requirements as other institutions.

However, finding the right candidates is proving difficult and, out of sheer desperation, the air force has to enlist candidates not entirely suited to flying.

The defence force’s quota system is 60% black, 20% white and 20% coloured and Indian.

Guidelines used to determine whether trainees pass or fail are also apparently “bent”.

An additional 40 hours training

Instructors also do not have the final say in appointing students. A panel of generals decides whether a student has potential or not.

In the latest incident, the student apparently failed his flight test.

The panel recommended he be given an additional 40 hours training. Once this was complete, he again apparently failed his test.

He apparently was allowed to continue flying, although he should have been removed from the course.

Beeld was told that as soon as black pilots qualified, they were snapped up by the private sector and instructors were forced to retrain the weak students left behind.

The air force has refused to comment apart from saying an investigation into the crash had been launched.