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Status of Moremi Air

Kathmandu, Nepal
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Status of Moremi Air

Question for the agents and operators out there: What's going on with Moremi Air? There've been no public updates since very shortly after the October crash that I can find. Now their website has been taken down, their Wiki page deleted and the M.A. information in several Botswana resources has been stripped to a bare minimum.

london
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for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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1. Re: Status of Moremi Air

I'm not an agent/operator but I'm off to Botswana tomorrow and according to my travel documents I'm flying with them on 9 December.

My agent told me they are still operating but are sub-chartering some flights.

Kathmandu, Nepal
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126 posts
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2. Re: Status of Moremi Air

Hmmm, interesting. Lucky you for heading to Bots tomorrow, stokey -- have a wonderful trip!

Kathmandu, Nepal
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3. Re: Status of Moremi Air

Still would like to hear from some agents. I know there are at least a couple here who are big on Kwando.

Maun
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4. Re: Status of Moremi Air

As far as we are concerned Moremi Air are fully operational - there have certainly been no official announcements or articles in the local press to the contrary here in Maun and their main office at Maun Airport is open as usual and taking bookings

It is true they have been sub chartering some flights onto other airlines. I flew out to look at a couple of camps in the Delta last week and booked flights through Moremi Air. As it turned out one of the flights was on another airline. There is nothing especially untoward about that though and it has happened to me before with other airlines especially at quiet times like now when not so many people are visiting.

All the charter airlines in Maun work with each other and speak to one another. For example, if 2 airlines find out that they each have 2 clients flying out to the same camp on the same day then it makes sense, if possible, for all 4 people to fly on 1 aircraft rather than have 2 separate planes flying out!

Mark, Gondwana Tours and safaris, Maun

Eastbourne, Lower...
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5. Re: Status of Moremi Air

Moremi Air is still flying daily and when we were there prior to the crash the service was great. They have a low baggage weight for flights but you pack accordingly and all the decent Kwando camps do laundry for you. Pilots all great - friendly New Zealanders/ Ausi's and Canadians when we were there. Would happily fly with them again.

Cologne, Germany
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6. Re: Status of Moremi Air

have just returned from Botswana and had a bunch of flights with Moremi Air - as mentioned before: "fully functional"...they are, however, still investigating last year's crash, no offical results yet

Nairobi, Kenya
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7. Re: Status of Moremi Air

From this week's Ngami Times:

"Pilots asking why the silence on Moremi crash

Many pilots and others in the aviation industry worldwide are asking why there has been no crash report issued by Ministry of Transport accident investigators into the Moremi air crash which killed nine people, including the pilot, last October.

The Cessna Caravan 208B, powered by a PT6 Pratt and Whitney engine, was burned out.

The report was expected in February but to date nothing appears to have been released to the public.

It is known that experts from the Cessna company, the manufacturers of the plane, have been to the crash site at Xakanaxa as well as experts from a company specialising in propellers.

Doubts are being expressed as to whether “Botswana is capable of investigating an aircraft accident” according to one pilot.

In comments on the website PPRuNe (Professional Pilots Rumour Network), a pilot's opinion is that “without the publication of proper investigations, lessons cannot be learned.”

A pilot called “Ragdragger”, writing from Tanzania, adds that “pilots have excluded almost nearly any possibility other than a mechanical one for the accident” while another is of the opinion that “the cause of the engine failure should be the most interesting issue. The PT6 is so extremely reliable that a failure at the critical time just after takeoff has probably never happened before to a single.

“A properly maintained PT6 simply does not fail so badly as to cause a serious fire.

This leads me to suspect a prop failure (bird?) or a fuel shortage. A fractured fuel pipe might explain the reported fire. Something very unusual must have happened to cause such a catastrophic failure.”

A New Zealand pilot, who says he flew in the delta, writes that “the cause of the engine failure should be the most interesting issue. The PT6 is so extremely reliable that a failure at the critical time just after takeoff has probably never happened before.”

A fellow pilot is quoted on the website as saying the accident was “not so rare as you think. In January 2009, another C208B caravan, A2-AKG, based in Maun, suffered power loss immediately after takeoff from Piajio airstrip on Chief's Island. In that case, however, the strip is surrounded by open swampland and in the resulting forced landing no-one was killed.

“If that was the case in AKD's situation, I would imagine that a similar outcome might have occurred, instead of in Xaxanaka's case where the airstrip is surrounded by trees”

He adds that both Caravans were maintained in Maun.

A pilot writing under the pen name “The Ancient Greek” asks whether an official accident investigation was ever published for the AKG incident – “sounds like there may be lessons to be learned about maintenance (as) this sort of thing does not happen to a properly maintained PT6”

In a lengthy report, a pilot signing himself “Foxcotte”, writing from Kenya, says the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft, Martin Gresswell, “was a good pilot - but human, so not absolutely infallible but very careful and correct.

“He was professional, experienced and knew Caravans and Botswana flying very, very well. He erred on the side of caution rather that took a gung-ho attitude, adored his daughter and having started a new life with his family in Botswana had everything going for him.

“He joined Moremi to fulfill a dream of becoming a management pilot, and was so chuffed at the start. Over 9 months that dream became disillusionment to the point he would rather return to what he had left in Kenya than continue with what he had found in Botswana. He left that decision a week too late.”

Recountng what may have happened that fateful day, “Foxcotte” says “it appears Martin got airborne out of Xakanaxa planning a normal departure to the right back to Pom Pom (camp). When whatever went wrong with the aircraft happened, he called a Mayday, banked slightly to the left and headed for the only clear area for an emergency put-down. With few options for anything, his left wing struck a tree ripping open the fuel tank and spiralling the aircraft down in flames into a bushy area of ground. All of that and the final outcome of the crash is in the public domain.

“What isn't known is what had happened to that aircraft/engine in the past - what had been replaced in the last overhaul, what components were near life or allowable limits, how many takeoffs in the past had been a bit over-temped, overtorqued, firewalled or how many accidental shut-downs/restarts had not been declared or if pilots/company had been operating out of manufacturer parameters. “I really don't think that Martin put the aircraft in the swamp for any other reason than he had absolutely no choice.

“There are people out there who have more information that has not been heard, who know more background to the situation, who flew the aircraft in the past.” "

I have a vested interest as the pilot was a personal friend from his time in Kenya.

Maun, Botswana
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8. Re: Status of Moremi Air

Ngami Times: Edition 655. 14 - 21 June, 2013.

MOREMI AIR PARTLY BLAMED FOR CRASH

The report of the aircraft accident investigation of the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan plane that crashed shortly after take-off from Xakanaxa airstrip in the Okavango Delta on October 14, 2011 - killing 8 of its 11 passengers, including the pilot - has almost if not entirely put the blame for the accident at the door of the operator, Moremi Air Services.

The report, by the Directorate of Accident Investigation in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, concluded that the crash was caused by engine failure resulting from failure of the engine's compressor turbine blades.

It had harsh words to say about Moremi Air's training culture as well as how its pilots had resigned owing to authoritarian management.

Those who died in the accident were the British-born pilot Martin Gresswell, 51, and seven of his passengers from Switzerland (3), France (3) and Britain.

The survivors were two French and two Botswana government officials. One of the French survivors died in the Milpark Hospital, in Johannesburg, while a Botswna government official died of natural causes late last year..

Gresswell's mother, Barbara Hoad, of Hull, England, told the BBC that as the investigation found the engine failed due to corrosion on the compressor blades, it cleared her son of any responsibility close to the first anniversary of his death. She was quoted by Hull media some months after the crash as saying: “It was 100 per cent engine failure and definitely not Martin's fault. In our hearts, we knew it wasn't pilot's error because we had flown with him and he was a good pilot.”

The accident report found that contributing factors to the accident were “an inadequate safety culture and lack of an established safety management system within Moremi Air Services, subjugating and authoritarian management control at the carrier, a poor training programme at Moremi Air Services and carrying more passengers than authorised out of Xakanaxa airfield.”

The report also blames the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) for poor supervision and oversight to the operator, aircraft maintenance organisation and airfield certification. The engine manufacturer was also at fault for lack of dissemination of critical maintenance information to the operators and aircraft maintenance organisations.

Tall trees that have been bedevilling Xakanaxa airstrip also contributed to the accident. According to the report, the Cessna, registration A2 AKD, departed Maun on the morning of October 14, 2011, for a series of flight sectors in the Okavango Delta that took the aircraft to Kasane. The aircraft was refuelled there and at 11.50am “11 passengers boarded the aircraft which was going to Pom Pom but the pilot changed the schedule and the aircraft diverted to Xakanaxa to drop two passengers.

“There was no flight plan filed for Xakanaxa sector, nor was the company base informed of the

diversion before the aircraft's departure from Kasane airport,” says the report.

It goes on to say at Xakanaxa the pilot was informed that he was required to pick up another two passengers who were going to Maun. After some hesitation, the pilot agreed to take the passengers, departing from Xakanaxa with 11 passengers although the aircraft was restricted to carry 10 passengers out of that airfield.

The Pratt and Whitney aircraft engine lost power during the climb out at Xakanaxa and the aircraft collided with a tree. It crashed nose first approximately 600 metres from the airfield.

According to the report, Xakanaxa airfield is owned by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and has tall trees at either end of the runway. It also says that the owners were not willing to remove the trees even after being advised by the Civil Aviation Authority.

“There had been an effort to relocate the airfield as a lasting solution but the project was abandoned mid-way reportedly due to financial constraints faced by the Department,” the report added.

Investigations to the accident revealed that the compressor turbine of the engine had failed, leading to engine failure.

“ Sulphidation corrosion was found on the inter-platform area of the compressor turbine although this could not be positively established as the root cause of the turbine failure,” the report found.

It goes on to say the possibility of material failure and inappropriate operation of the engine could not entirely be ruled out as the possible cause of the compressor turbine failure.

“It was also established that Moremi Air Services' top management style, safety culture and pilot training structure had eroded to the extent that safety was being compromised.

“At the time of the accident the pilot had tendered his resignation as had many pilots before him after experiencing antagonism with the top management at the company.”

It further reveals that although the CEO position did not feature in the Operations Manual, “witness reports within the organisation stated that all the major decisions pertaining to the running of the company were only carried out upon approval by the CEO.”

According to witness reports, the management style at Moremi Air Services is described as being single-handedly run by the CEO who ensured a full grip on operational control. “Her leadership style was described by many as aggressive and assertive, which effectively demoralised many of the staff,” the report added.

It further states “that others described her leadership style as draconian while others referred to her as a micro-manager.”

Moremi Air Services pilots had been discussing management issues in their own forum but there were no positive changes.

“Moremi Air Services had experienced four accidents within two years prior to the

employment of the occurrence pilot and the management stated that they had employed

the occurrence pilot to assist in resolving safety related issues,” the report said.

Findings and recommendations

Probable Cause of the Accident

3.2.1 Engine failure resulting from the failure of the Compressor Turbine Blades.

Other Contributing Factors

3.3.1 Sulphidation corrosion on the inter-platform area of turbine blades.

3.3.2 Tall trees at the end of Xaxanaka airfield.

3.3.3 Inadequate safety culture and lack of an established Safety Management System within Moremi Air Services.

3.3.4 Subjugating and authoritarian management control at Moremi Air Services.

3.3.5 Poor training programme at Moremi Air Services

3.3.6 Issuance of Dispensation to Xaxanaka airfield.

3.3.7 Carrying more passengers than authorised out of Xaxanaka airfield.

3.3.8 Lack of dissemination of critical maintenance information to the operators and AMOs by the engine manufacturer.

3.3.9 Poor supervision and oversight by CAAB to the aircraft operator, aircraft maintenance organisation and airfield certification.

RECOMMENDATIONS

4.1 Pratt and Whitney Canada and Cessna to continue supporting the effort of SERT team to identify the major causes of engine shut down on single-engine aircraft.

4.2 That the aircraft manufacturer and the relevant certification authorities should ensure that the ADAS system is protected against fire damage.

4.3 That the CAAB reinforces its work-force at Maun airport to ensure that the oversight responsibility for aircraft operators and maintenance organisations is carried out diligently.

4.4 The CAAB should ensure that the Management system at Moremi Air Services is overhauled so that there is a clearly defined line of command and that the work environment is conducive for safe operation of aircraft.

4.5 The CAAB should establish a system that will ensure that commercial operators prepare load sheets for every flight sector and a provision for amending them in case of changes in the flight schedules that will affect the loading and destination of the aircraft.

4.6 The CAAB should ensure that aircraft operations at Xaxanaka airfield and other Category C airfields is limited to aircraft of the authorised performance group and it should consider to stop issuing dispensations.

4.7 The CAAB should direct the Wildlife and National Parks management to ensure that the trees at Xaxanaka airfield do not pose danger to aircraft or passengers.

4.8 The CAAB should ensure that the safety culture at MAS is improved through building up of a solid Safety Management System.4. The CAAB should put a requirement for operators to install ELTs that will activate when subjected to longitudinal as well as lateral forces.

4.10 The CAAB should ensure that MAS has a well-established training schedule for their pilots and the records are prepared and kept up to date.

4.11 The CAAB should initiate a research on the presence of sodium compounds on calcrete used on airfield surfaces and its effect on turbine engines.

4.12 The DWNP should look into the possibility of completing the relocation of Xaxanaka airfield if they are not in a position to cut the tall trees surrounding the existing airfield.

9. Re: Status of Moremi Air

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Removed on: 19 June 2013, 17:05
Geneva, Switzerland
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10. Re: Status of Moremi Air

as apparently you need to careful what you say: think twice about travelling in Botswana. Not all flight companies are safe. Indeed some are a major risk. Civil aviation oversight is inadequate. Also be very careful about travel insurance: Botswana is not a good place to die, burnt alive on your dream holiday