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Only in Africa

Marc Lurie

Extreme Landy Fan
I was doing some contract work in Mampara* for the national airline Air Mampara* last year. We installed a very sophisticated HF radio system at the airport in the Mamparan capital city of Tokoloshe*

The airline has decided that it wants to completely revise its image and wants to compete on the international market. Their plan is to order new aircraft, rebuild their infrastructure around the country, and expand their international links. All very worthwhile pursuits, but implementing all this is proving somewhat difficult.

At the Tokoloshe International AIrport, they have completely re-vamped a previously derelict building to act as their Main Control Centre. The place has been completely repaired, new doors and windows installed, new airconditioning system, desks, computers, telephones etc.

Anyway, the new building has been in use for 3 months now, and someone has already broken one of the door locks. No problem you'd think... simply replace the lock. Not in the Peoples Republic of Mampara*

There is no money available to buy a new lock, and besides, the paperwork required to purchase a new lock will take MONTHS to implement.

The solution: Make a hole in the door and tie a piece of string to the lock so that it can be opened from outside.

You now access the nerve centre of the whole airline by pulling on a piece of string. :rolleyes:

And this is a company that maintains its own fleet of 737's and 747's. :eek: I couldn't believe it, so I risked imprisonment (believe me, you don't want to be a prisoner in a Mamparan prison, and taking photographs of official building is absolutely forbidden there), and took a quick snapshot with my phone.

Oh well, at least their maintenance vehicle is a Defender. I took this quick shot with my phone while pretending to be calling my girlfriend, which is why it's not well framed.

*While this story is absolutely true, names have been changed to cover me if my client ever actually looks at this forum. ;)
 

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i used to go to dakar-french sengal-and their airport was something else.they had a consignment of new uniforms delivered-they are a ex french colony-and the uniforms were ex french.when they were given out it did not matter if they fitted or not.the first guy i saw was about 6ft tall and wearing a full french dress uniform-for someone about 5ft 5inch tall.but he looked as pleased as punch
 
Hi Marc

this reminds me of an incident when another national airline had the fuselage of its 747 pierced by an inattentive driver of a truck on the apron of said country's international airport. Seeing as no spares were available, the hole was covered with Duck Tape and the plane flown (with passengers and cargo inside, mind) on a much lower flight level to the international airport of a neighbouring country where this damage was then repaired.
 
Hi Marc

this reminds me of an incident when another national airline had the fuselage of its 747 pierced by an inattentive driver of a truck on the

No surprise to me Frank. I was in Lubumbashi* when a Hewa Bora Airlines* plane ripped the passenger door off a rival airline's MD11 by gunning his engine as he taxied past. The MD11 flew to Kinshasa* without a door.

* No need to change names. The story's real, and was witnessed by everyone at the airport. And yes, "Lubumbashi" is a real place name. :D
 
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Hi Marc

this reminds me of an incident when another national airline had the fuselage of its 747 pierced by an inattentive driver of a truck on the apron of said country's international airport. Seeing as no spares were available, the hole was covered with Duck Tape and the plane flown (with passengers and cargo inside, mind) on a much lower flight level to the international airport of a neighbouring country where this damage was then repaired.
Depending on the exact location and the extent of the damage, it's quite legitimate to fly with such damage - I have had to do it several times. You'd be amazed at how often some idiot drives a ground service vehicle into the side of an aircraft - it probably happens to each and every aeroplane once a day, just usually not resulting in significant damage.
 
A little nearer to home,

A small UK airline (no longer in business) in business in late 80's early 90's, flying from regional UK airport using small planes Short Skyvan, Brittan Norman Islander size

Was on board for last time when they sent for a sledgehammer to finally close the passenger door!

A "little" concerned

When we took off and the wing took strain, the 1" gap that appeared between top of door and frame until we landed was a lot more concerning to me!
 
no different than the raf,seen vc10's several times with tape holding windows etc in place.also it was a joy seeing the passenger faces geting onto pembrokes in the 1980's(a old twin engine 8 seater) a getting weighed then finding someone to take charge of in flight catering- a tray of sandwiches and 2 flasks-then the pilot asking who's got a jacket to sit next to the door due to the draft!!they used to do the northolt germany run and in a bad headwind sometimes had trouble making germany and sometimes getting over taking by ferries:D
 
no different than the raf,seen vc10's several times with tape holding windows etc in place.
Last night, when I tried to close the cockpit window, I found it to be jammed. I moved in my seat to face aft and pulled a bit harder. The window ended up in my lap :eek:. I managed to refit it and it worked normally again, but I was going nowhere until the engineer had a good look at it, and I kept my full set of straps on tighltly throughout the flight.
 
This is all pretty scary stuff, but the surprise for me, is Snagger's amazingly laid back responce! I thought we would at least have a row of :eek: :eek: from our professional pilot.

I've heard that aircraft departing from airports in certain African countries, broadcast to any other aircraft on the frequency, especially those inbound. They give information about aircraft waiting to land or take off, vehicles on the runway and even wild animals on the runway, because the air traffic control is either unreliable or missing entirely. I've also heard that certain ATC systems will answer inbound aircraft at least once - so they can then charge the airline - but not subsequently.

Roger.
 
African ATC is very poor, but so are most African pilots, engineers and so on. It is positively the most dangerous place to fly. European airlines fly their routes over Africa offset 2nm to the right of track just incase some idiot is coming the other way at the wrong level or without clearance. It's common practice in Africa to fly with all the lights and the transponder switched off at night and not to contact ATC for anything at all in order to avoid ATC navigation charges - these flights operate illegally without flightplans and just pretend they aren't there to keep costs down.

Cases of bad maintenance of navigational aids are common to, with VOR (VHF Omni-directional Ranging) beacons being up to 20 degrees out. It's not uncommon to find steel framed bicyles leaning against highly sensitive antennas for the ILS, distorting the beam massively dangerously.

There was also a case of a Congo 737 which collided with a twin Cessna at about 11,00 feet on the first sector. It tore most of the Cessna's tail off, but it was able to carry out an emergency landing and the occupants survived. The three slats on the 73's right wing were all torn off, with significant damage to the main part of the wing and the spar. The 73 Captain not only failed to report the colision or carry out an emergency landing - he continued to his destination and did another two flights before an SAA engineer in ANgola saw the aircraft and grounded it! Nigerian were banned from European airspace because both engines fell of one wing on a 707 near Bruxelles!
 
African ATC is very poor, but so are most African pilots, engineers and so on.

While Snagger is unfortunately quite correct on this matter, I must stress that this is definitely NOT the case with South African Airways. The SAA pilots and ground staff are very well trained, to the highest international standards. I'm sure Snagger will agree.

The international airports in South Africa (Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban) are world-class facilities with world class navigational systems and ATC.

Most Angolan commercial pilots are ex-Air Force, trained by Cubans, Brazilians, and Russians. They have become used to coming in fast and steep to avoid RPG's and other gunfire on the airport periphery, so landing can be pretty scary, especially when they land a 737 on a short dirt runway in the bush, or when they land the Illyushin 76 tanker with 30,000 litres of diesel on board. It's a bit like being strapped to an enormous time-bomb.

God only knows where the Congolese piolots were trained :eek:
 
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