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Air Botswana's Only Embraer E170 Is Grounded By Regulators

SimpleFlying logo SimpleFlying 5/27/2022 Charlotte Seet
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On May 25th, Air Bostwana was unable to continue its regional schedules after its only Embraer E-170 aircraft was grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) and had its Certificate of Airworthiness suspended for safety reasons.

Temporarily unable to fly

Perhaps what comes as a shock is learning that the decision to ground the single aircraft was mutual between Air Botswana and the CAAB. The joint consensus came after several constructive engagements with the CAAB has got Air Botswana deciding that grounding the aircraft would allow the required inspections as recommended by Embraer, as confirmed by the CAAB:

"The airline had proactively engaged Embraer for technical advice over some of the recurring issues with the aircraft. Currently, the airline is implementing the recommended corrective plan of which 4/5 recommendations have been completed. At the time of the grounding, the aircraft was not scheduled for any commercial operation and as such, the safety of the public was not in any way compromised."

The recurring issues would certainly pose a safety hazard if left unattended and is most certainly due to the aircraft's old age. Registered as A2-ABM, the E-170 aircraft is nearly 12 years old and pairs up Gaborone with Cape Town, Harare, Johannesburg, and Lusaka.

As the somewhat sole regional workhorse for the state-owned airline, the E-170 is undoubtedly due for some much-needed full-on inspections to ensure everything is alright, as highlighted by General Manager Agnes Khunwana:

"The only clarity I can give is that the aircraft was already on the ground as we were carrying out checks as recommended by Embraer. It is our core responsibility as well to ensure the safety of the flying public, so we were not going to risk that at any cost."

Of the more than 25 airlines operating the Embraer E-170 aircraft, Air Botswana ranks 12th in age, at just 11.7 years old. Photo: R. Eikelenboom | Jetphotos

Seeking help from others

Although Air Botswana has two other, and much younger, ATR 72-600s in its relatively small fleet, those aircraft are only used for domestic and regional routes requiring less than two hours of flight time. Without the E-170 aircraft in active service, the airline has had little to no choice but to engage third-party operators to continue its regional schedules.

According to Khunwana, the services of CemAir and Africa Charter Airline have already been recruited to provide the regional schedules. As a younger airline, CemAir operates a slightly more extensive fleet consisting of Bombardier CRJ-100s, CRJ-200s, CRJ-900s, and De Havilland Canada DHCs. On the other hand, Africa Charter Airline has a fleet of one Boeing 737-200 and a 737-500.

And just like that, business is still going on as per usual for Air Botswana, with or without the E-170, as mentioned by Khunwana:

"The inspection is complete and we are awaiting the authority to clear it possibly tomorrow. We already operated [in] Cape Town yesterday with a CRJ900."

The CRJ-900ER used to replace the E-170 temporarily is registered as ZS-CMP and is usually used to fly between Cape Town and Johannesburg for CemAir. Photo: Timothy Brandt | Jetphotos

Back in service

After a long two days, it would seem that the inspection is completed to the utmost satisfaction of the CAAB and Embraer. The returning news comes as Air Botswana has reinstated the E-170 back into commercial service as of May 27th, further commenting:

"In order to allay the safety concerns raised about the aircraft, it is worth noting that inspections carried out resulted in zero findings and that the aircraft is fit for commercial operation as of today, May 27. The authority has been appraised of the successful completion of the inspections carried out, and they have since reinstated the Certificate of Airworthiness of the aircraft."

Given the old age of the E-170, it is an assured relief for both the airline and its passengers to note that there were no issues found. Thus, Air Botswana can now carry on its regular flying schedules of 18 daily flights on 13 routes, to eight different destinations, with its entire fleet of three aircraft.

Source: ch-aviation


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