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ZS-NAN on the taxiway at Cape Town International Airport. Photo via internet.

David Mabuzas hair-raising jet landing

Date: 10 March 2019

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Erika Gibson

Deputy President David Mabuza endured a hair-raising landing this week at the hands of the SA Air Force, when both tyres on the left side of the VIP jet he was travelling in burst during a landing at Cape Town International Airport.

The crippled Falcon 900, the air force’s number two aircraft in its VIP fleet, then spent hours on one of the airport’s taxiways, waiting for a crew with new tyres to be flown in from Pretoria.

Mabuza was travelling to Cape Town to attend the parliamentary question-and-answer session with President Cyril Ramaphosa, who flew on the presidential jet Inkwazi.

Thami Ngwenya, Mabuza’s spokesperson, said the deputy president was unharmed, but declined to comment further on the matter.

According to air force sources, the same senior pilot involved in Thursday’s incident also ended up in hot water when he accidentally landed on the military runway of Entebbe International Airport in Uganda in 2015.

At the time, Ramaphosa – serving as deputy president – was on board.

The secondary runway that the pilot landed on during the 2015 incident was reserved solely for military fighter jets.

No flights were scheduled for that night, averting a possible disaster.

The Ugandan aviation authority subsequently laid a complaint against the crew and, at the time, the air force said that the necessary corrective action was taken.

The situation that occurred at Cape Town airport on Thursday will be investigated by the air force’s flight safety division.

Those in the know speculate that the incident could have been caused by one of two things.

It was raining in Cape Town at the time of the incident, and the runway was wet.

The Falcon 900 has an anti-skid mechanism, which is put into operation to prevent the aircraft from skidding.

If this system had not been activated, or if it was not working properly, the pilot would have had to break sharply to prevent the aeroplane from skidding, thereby bursting the tyres.

But instead of immediately bringing the plane with its flat tyres to a stop, the crew apparently moved it closer to the airport building, further damaging the rims.

Technicians and two replacement tyres were then loaded on to a Falcon 50 and flown to Cape Town from Waterkloof Air Force Base.

The Falcon 900 was put into use again late last year, after being grounded for a year while the air force set up its own maintenance division with the assistance of SAA.

Source: City Press


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