WINDHOEK - Air Namibia has acknowledged the gravity of an incident they describe as equipment failure when a Passenger Assistance Unit (PAU) malfunctioned on Friday at Hosea Kutako International Airport. The airline has now tasked a team of aviation experts in their respective fields to carry out an in-depth investigation into the incident that could severely jeopardise the airline’s reputation.
“The team is tasked to find the root cause of this incident and make recommendations to maintain the airline’s unblemished safety record. The team comprises manager of safety (lead investigator), manager of security (co-opted investigator), general manager of ground operations, and a quality assurance officer. The PAU has been suspended indefinitely until it is declared safe to operate. We regret this unfortunate incident. The investigation is ongoing and a preliminary investigation statement will be shared soon. We wish the affected customers and the Air Namibia staff a speedy recovery,” reads a statement from the airline’s manager for corporate communications Paulus Nakawa.
The incident happened after 21h00 on Friday after the arrival of Air Namibia’s SW708. Six passengers and two Air Namibia personnel were involved when the PAU tipped backward.
“Upon the arrival of flights SW728 (JNB – WDH) and SW708 (CPT – WDH), the PAU operator executed his duties as required. He offloaded two passengers requiring assistance from SW728 without any incident and proceeded to offload passengers from SW708. The PAU worked well, as the uplifting process was eventless.
However, as the PAU was offloading passengers from the SW708 flight, the unit tipped backward. After the initial investigations, a breakage was found at a factory welded joint,” Nakawa explained.
He added that the passengers and the Air Namibia personnel fell primarily from the tipping movement, thereby causing some minor injuries. This resulted in the airport fire station being called in and an ambulance dispatched to the scene. The passengers and Air Namibia personnel were immediately transported to the Lady Pohamba Hospital in Windhoek.
After a thorough examination at the hospital, three passengers were discharged immediately, while three other passengers were admitted. Air Namibia staff members were booked off until today.
“Air Namibia has a procedure to ensure all its ground support equipment is serviced and maintained regularly according to the manufacturer’s standards. The specific PAU underwent a full service in November 2019,” Nakawa added.
2019-12-18 11:30:16 | 3 months ago