Windhoek — The Namibia Airports Company (NAC) is tight-lipped on details of what led to an incident in which one aircraft rammed into another at Hosea Kutako International Airport on Friday afternoon. The incident, deemed serious by industry experts, involved a South African Airways aircraft that was being guided to its parking apron by a NAC marshal and a parked brand new Airbus A330-200 of Air Namibia
Yesterday the Deputy Director of Aircraft Accident Investigations at the Directorate of Civil Aviation, Erickson Nengola, said the incident was the first of its kind involving big aircraft at Hosea Kutako International Airport since his tenure at the aviation department in the Ministry of Works and Transport.
Nengola could however not divulge more information saying that the matter is still under investigation. He said that a preliminary report has been done but would first be forwarded to the Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina.
Nengola added that NAC is responsible for defined markings or lines at the international airports to where aircraft are directed once they land. However, an airport marshal should still be able to coordinate parking for pilots in the absence of clear markings.
Meanwhile the Airbus spokesperson for Southern Africa Linden Birns told New Era that the accident was not that big, describing what happened as a mere incident in which one aircraft "grazed" the other.
Birns, who is based in Cape Town, said the abrasion caused by the SAA plane damaged the winglet of the Air Namibia Airbus A330-200 but not the wing itself. He explained that a winglet is an attachment to the wing, which reduces resistance or drag, resulting in less fuel consumption.
But when the winglet is damaged, it causes error dynamic attachment to the wing, which increases fuel consumption. "It [the winglet] is not a safety feature. It means that the aeroplane can fly without the winglet," Birns said. He could not divulge the cost of the damage but disclosed that a new winglet has already been delivered to Lufthansa Technik in Germany to replace the damaged winglet.
The accident happened between 15h00 and 16h00 on Friday. However the plane still managed to depart to Frankfurt after repairs were done to the winglet. Birns said installing the replacement part only takes a couple of hours and the aeroplane should be fine. "It is operating quite safely," he said, adding that he could not tell who was to blame for the incident and could not speculate either.