Thought and Ideas
Soroti Flying School is limping
Posted Sunday, November 3 2013 at 00:00
Pilot trainees indicate that the runway is rough for planes and that they struggle to find aircrafts for practice after the planes got grounded.
Established in 1971 by the East African Community to train pilots and aircraft engineers for the East African market, Soroti Flying School Academy is today a shadow of what it was; with all its planes grounded.
The siren sounds from hovering planes over the skies of Soroti Town and neighbouring districts have gone silent.
According to the latest revelations from sources who do not want to be named because they are not allowed to speak to the press, the only surviving plane out of the eight, has also been grounded as the academy ponders where to find funds for repairing the aircraft.
“Without a validated certificate we can’t access the skies and to guarantee this, the planes must be repaired but the academy is bankrupt,” the source explains.
The source says the administration control over certain issues has been trimmed. At one point, the academy controlled the runway, measuring 1,860 metres, but the Civil Aviation Authority has since assumed authority over this.
“The runway has turned rough and pot holes are emerging as flying stones from it have caused a great deal of damaged on the planes,”
Mr Ignie Igunduura, the CAA public relations manager, says indeed, the flying school airworthiness certificate has expired, and that they have no reason to blame CAA, saying the academy knows the CAA policies and procedures of renewing the certificate.
He adds that the certificate is issued after CAA, a body overseeing flight operations, examines the status and safety of the planes, adding that the situation the academy finds itself in is tricky, all they must do is to fix their planes.
Mr Igunduura says a team of experts from CAA are on the ground to assess the status of the flying school runway, its safety integrity, and that CAA response to rehabilitate the runway will solely be based on the expert’s findings.
According to a student who only identified himself as James, he told this newspaper that frustrations towards CAA by the administrators has widened, saying ever since the flight instructors complained about the state of the runway in 2010, CAA has seemingly paid a deaf ear until of late when the runway caused the grounding of the planes.
“Last year when one of the planes crash-landed at this strip, the roughness of the runway was pointed out as one of the cause, surprisingly since then it was ignored,” the concern student reveals.
However, Mr Igunduura refutes the allegations, saying they are not responsible for repairing the fleet of its grounded Cesena planes.
Ms Susan Kataike, the public relations manager of Ministry of Works and Transport, says a couple of meetings are being held to find out channels of getting money to help the limping academy repair its planes.
Ms Kataike says the once vexing issue of instructors has seemingly been sorted out, but information within the inner circles indicate that most of these instructors are attached to UPDF, who are there to train their air force personnel and as soon as it is done, the possibility is that they would be taken back.
Listening to Joseph Otialuk Maraka, the deputy guild president and a cadet pilot student, all is not well; the academy is hobbling, and revelations from the administrators is that the funding has dropped from Shs3 billion to Shs170 million not worthy running the academy.