Monday, October 17, 2011

Eight Foreign Tourists, Pilot Killed in Plane Crash in Botswana

Eight foreign tourists, including four Swedes, two Britons and two French nationals, and the pilot were killed on Friday (October 14), when their Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft crashed into flames after take-off near an airstrip in north Botswana's Okavango Delta. It was not immediately clear exactly how many people were on board the aircraft, but there were only four survivors -- a French couple and two Botswanan nationals employed by the Department of Road Transport and Safety (DRTS).

The Cessna 208 was destined for the island of Pom Pom, a luxurious safari destination in the north, when the crash occurred. The French couple who survived the crash were airlifted to a hospital in Johannesburg, where they were treated for burns and other injuries. Sue Smart, chief executive officer of Moremi Air Charters, said the private airline in the Okavango Delta had temporarily grounded its fleet pending an investigation.

COMMENT: The Okavango Delta is a high-end tourist destination, popular with foreign visitors. The unidentified pilot was also the company's general manager and had 12,000 hours of flying. Botswana has a thriving tourism industry, which could well be affected by this crash, as searchers continue to find South African tourist, John Bullen, who is feared dead after going missing in the Chobe National Park three weeks ago. We will keep our readers abreast of the causation of this crash as information becomes available.

The Cessna 208 Caravan is configured with a single turboprop engine and is a fixed-gear, short-haul regional airliner or utility aircraft built in the US by Cessna. The aircraft typically seats nine passengers, with a single-person crew, although with a FAR Part 23 waiver, it can seat up to fourteen passengers. At the time of the crash, the 208 carried thirteen persons (12 passengers and the pilot). Generally speaking, and particularly in developing countries, it better to utilize twin-engine aircraft when transporting as many as 13 persons, strictly from a safety standpoint.

No comments: