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Crisis at SAAF Flight School

Date: 19 March 2009

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The following  is a rough translation of an Afrikaans article that appeared in the Beeld newspaper:

By Erika Gibson

Dissatisfaction with the standard of training at the SAAF Langebaan Central Flying School has reach a crisis after three senior flight instructors there have surrendered their responsibility to make important decisions about the progress of student pilots.

These instructors have the authority to promote students or expel them from the course. They have taken this step after their recommendations regarding students that have failed the course have been ignored.

Further to this two Astra training aircraft would most likely need to be written off after serious accidents, while the decision to write off a third has still to be made.

Problems regarding training have led to serious disagreements at the school. The recent disagreement was about two students who failed their flight training two years ago. These students had more than 300 reports against them for not reaching the required training standards, before the instructors finally decided to expel them from flight training.

However, Zimbabwean instructors, who are also helping with instruction at the School, are believed not to have agreed with the suspension.

There was first an instruction that they must start again with their training and then that they must be transferred to the air force's headquarters in Pretoria.

Shortly thereafter, they were transferred to 41 Squadron at AFB Waterkloof were they were to continue their training on aircraft other than the normal training aircraft.

The request from higher authorities stated that the training schedule should allow for them to obtain their wings in July.

The three instructors, the only ones at the flying school who may recommend the suspension of students, saw their authority being undermined.

The three accidents caused within a period of 4 days by students which have completed more than half their flight training at CFS Langebaanweg , with more than 100 flying hours each.

One student had, during an emergency landing exercise, hit the ground with the propeller first.

Four days later, the same student performed a hard landing of nine times their body weight (9 g's).

Later that same day, a female student also landed with the propeller first and hit the ground at 10g's.

At the time of going to press the Defence Force had not responded to any of Beelds written enquiries.

Previously, there were already tensions at the school when students contended that the instructors were racist when mainly black students failed. The Zimbabwean instructors were appointed to the school about two years ago in order to help control the tensions.


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