Oh No, Not Again!
First of all, Kenyan local airlines are a death-trap.
Just like the dilapidated matatus we see and board on our roads, the local airlines, the most notorious in terms of cutting corners, Fly540.
Yesterday evening, it was reported that a Fly540 aircraft enroute to Nairobi had suffered a tyre burst during lift-off from the Lodwar Airstrip.
After the Silverstone Airlines incidences have simmered, we are back to the real rogue one.
Sins of Fly540
To start with, lets document from the latest.
In early October, this blog had received information that the pilots of Fly540 had not been paid salaries for four months and that some were so frustrated that their morale and perfomance were low.
Another reader sent information that a pilot of Fly540 had landed a plane very hard at Ukunda Airport.
It is reported that top executives of private air operator Fly540, led by Don Smith have infiltrated the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) inspection licencing system to control entire directorates apparently with the consent of Director General of KCAA Captain Gilbert Kibe.
In June 2018, an aircraft operated by Fly540 airlines hot the sides of aberdares ranges killing all 10 onboard.
This site that time received information that that was not the first incident and that the accident was a chronology of events in the company that likes to cut corners.
Take a look:
Normally, these are major causes of aviation accidents and incidents.
Let’s start with Fly 540/SAX. This is just one company and the aircraft that had an accident has been on maintenance in the Fly 540 hangar. Under human factors above let me make one thing clear, as the maintenance of 5Y-CAC was going on, Don Smith (CEO) fired some maintenance personnel involved in this check. He also issued warning letters to others. So how this can this lead to an accident?
Distraction, continuation of the work one was carried out by another maintenance personnel can result in errors. Could these errors be the case where some major equipments were not working? Let me make it clear that you cannot hit a hill without a ground proximity warning system, warning the pilot. There are navigation equipment,AHRS (Altitude and Heading Reference System), and even after the aircraft crashed the ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) never worked. Please note that the airport control terminal can’t be blamed here, as they dont guide an aircraft 100% of the journey. The decision to land in JKIA was on request from the company not a decision by the Airport Control Tower (ACT).
This is not the first fatal accident that the company has had. Years back, there was an incident as listed below;
Fly 540 Fokker F-27 plane crash
13th august, 2008
Does the Kenyan public know of this? This incident was hidden from the public and Don Smith employed one of the brother to the deceased engineer as a cleaner now in JKIA line to hide some truth. When you google this you will find some truth.
The second accident
There is an accident that happened at Wilson Airport on a test flight. The flight engineer had no chair, and after the accident a chair was thrown at the scene of the accident to show that there was a chair for the engineer and it had come off. Don Smith dispatched large sums of cash to the accident scene through Aiden Moh to pay reporters to leave the scene as this would destroy the image of the company.
Was this reported? Don Smith has his ways and am afraid if the truth is not taken into account, it will be hidden by this mafia.
The incident on JKIA 540 CRJ
Here we go again bad maintenance, a CRJ 100 main wheel got off from the aircraft as it was taxing, the crew were notified of this by a Jambo Jet Aircraft that was taxing behind, but was the company held responsible for this? Again this was hidden till this recent disaster for 5Y-CAC. Short cuts are what define Fly 540/ Fly SAX
The Major 5Y-BXD CRJ 100 Incident
With this, one of its engine was consuming a lot of oil, after every flight. To simplify, a CRJ aircraft should consume an average of 2 quarts per day depending on flight as well. The engineers in this airline wrote emails,handed over books on how this engine was unsafe for flight, and what did the company do? Money first. Let it fly. The airline was very aware of how dangerous this was, but they never took any precaution.
The engine failed at flight on its way to Juba, it came back with one engine and landed in JKIA. Please note this failure would have been avoided. This would have cost lives like 5Y-CAC, so you can imagine all those systems that were not working on 5Y-CAC.
One big question is how this aircraft left JKIA to Wilson with a faulty engine? Some crazy pilot was paid handsomely to take it to Wilson Airport.
True facts, so who signed this aircraft? Where was KCAA on this? If this aircraft crashed you would be told the same crap, ATC weather etc, aircraft have been directed to Mombasa, Nairobi, etc. Did the pilots say they have never been to Kenya or they are not familiar with the route? No. Wa there a navigational equipment for this? Was the one for 5Y-CAC working? Was the weather radar working? Was the AHRS working? What of GPS? We clearly know the ELT did not work. Could lives have been saved if the ELT was working?
PS: the person responsible for this is Muhammed Uppal, the chief engineer who Don Smith has kept to be taking short cuts for him. Remember this is all to cut costs and make engineers take short cuts to help maximize profits at the expense of lives. Fly 540/ Fly SAX puts these engineers in a blackmail situation, because remember the field is too small these engineer are known to all. So it’s easy for Don Smith to telephone other companies and advise them not to hire a certain individual.
Former line manager Peter Mwangi had one licence which he acquired by back doors means. He has been used by this company before to make decisions that the company wants. In maintenance, we don’t just do what the company wants, we go by what the aircraft manuals and KCAA regulations dictate. Peter Mwangi was the line manager was at the time of 5Y-BXD accident, what did he do?
There are so many incidents that we can list here that can show how Fly 540/ Fly SAX take risks and puts passengers and crew lives at risk. They will try to blame the dead on this 5Y-CAC accident, ATC or weather, not the actual airworthyness of the aircraft. Also take note that this aircraft was not airworthy if all these equipments were not working. There is a reason why the aircraft had delayed in kitale maybe because of weather or most likely the aircraft had snags and the pilot had doubts on taking this flight.
Fly 540 holds employees at ransom through the following:
1. Failure To Submit Deductions
The company or let me say Don Smith fails to submit NSSF, NHIF, tax and contribution to the staff SACCO even after deducting them from their salary. It’s illegal to do this, so why is the government so silent on this airline? Let me make one thing clear with evidence; See attachments, Fly 540/ Fly SAX has deducted money from its employees since February 2018 to date but has not submitted the money to the SACCO. The rest follows suit after the tax deductions (see attachments) after an employee gets sick that’s the time you realize your contribution to NHIF are behind in moths. Where is the justice for the employees working in Fly 540?
2. Company Transport For Those Working In JKIA,
Please note that human factors are connected to this, a simple thing can lead tp an accident, see accident investigations related to cutting on cost and see how the above human factors can play a role.
These employees are expected to be at JKIA at 4am, there is no company transport, there are no transport/fuel allowances, same goes for night shifts, shifts with no clear end, it can be at 11pm or 1am. Don Smith simply doesn’t care how these employees go home. Some have to spend the night sleeping on the office chairs. How efficiently can these employee work? Especially engineers, how well can they make decisions on the aircrafts that are carrying innocent lives? This is a disaster waiting to happen. Don clearly said if you are not comfortable just resign.
3. Fear To Sue As The Industry Is Too Small
Don Smith can fire at will, he knows very well that if you sue the airline, news will spread and the other airlines will most likely not accept you. So you are to do as the airline tells you to do, even if its clearly wrong and put the lives of people at danger (remember above 5Y-BXD). Some have resigned and have been fired for their conscience cannot allow, but most are hanging there as this is the only source of income.