Air Namibia probes PAU incident

By Business Reporter

AIR Namibia has launched an investigation into an incident that was caused by the Passenger Assistance Unit (PAU) equipment failure at Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) last week.

The incident resulted in six (6) passengers from Air Namibia flight (SW 708) and two (2) Air Namibia personnel getting injured.

“Air Namibia acknowledges the gravity of this incident and has constituted a team of aviation experts in their respective fields to carry out an in-depth investigation. The team is tasked to find the root cause of this incident and make recommendations to maintain the Airline’s unblemished safety record.

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The team is comprised of: Manager of Safety (Lead Investigator), Manager of Security (Co-opted Investigator), General Manager of Ground Operations and a Quality Assurance Officer.

“The PAU has been suspended indefinitely until it is declared safe to operate. We regret this unfortunate incident. The investigation is ongoing and a preliminary investigation statement will be shared soon. We wish the affected customers and Air Namibia staff speedy recovery,” Paulus Nakawa, Manager: Corporate Communications at Air Namibia said.

In explaining the incident, Nakawa said that upon the arrival of flights SW728 (JNB – WHD) and SW708 (CPT – WDH), the PAU operator executed his duties as required. He offloaded two passengers requiring assistance from SW728 without any incident and proceeded to offload passengers from SW708.

The PAU worked well as the uplifting process was eventless. However, as the PAU was offloading passengers from the SW708 flight, the unit tipped backward.

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After the initial investigations, a breakage was found at a factory welded joint. The passengers, as well as the Air Namibia personnel, fell down, primarily from the tipping movement thereby causing some minor injuries.

“The airport fire station was called in and an ambulance dispatched to the scene. The passengers and Air Namibia personnel were immediately transported to Lady Pohamba Hospital in Windhoek.

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“After a thorough examination at the hospital, three passengers were discharged immediately after observation, the other three passengers were admitted, and Air Namibia staff members are booked off until Wednesday, 18 December 2019,” he added.

The specific PAU underwent a full service in November 2019.