Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Air Force pilots used as taxi pilots for ANC VIPs

How low have we sunk? It seems there is no scheme these people cannot think up to take advantage of. Can you see these people ever letting go of the country when they have all these perks on tap?

Pilots fly taxis for VIPs

The South African Air Force (SAAF) spent six times longer flying VIPs than it did training pilots in fighter craft last year. This is despite a chronic shortage of pilots that experts say has already wiped out the country's air-combat capabilities.

The department of defence's 2008-09 annual report records 325 flying hours for air-combat capability in the SAAF's medium fighter craft Gripens and Cheetahs. By contrast the VIP fleet flew 1932 hours in the same period -- 1570 hours domestically and 362 internationally.

The Mail & Guardian has established that Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu made 23 trips using the VIP fleet from September to October 2009, on three occasions travelling with her son.

The 325 flying hours for medium fighter craft recorded last year represents a plummeting from 2 448 hours in 2007-08 and 2 084 hours 2006-07. The SAAF has cited budgetary constraints in Parliament for the decline.

Arms deal whistle-blower Richard Young said that the SAAF did not have combat-ready capability and that
the country has only six capable jet fighter pilots. And DA defence spokesperson David Maynier said Sisulu’s recent trips could have cost taxpayers as much as R2,3-million.

But defence department spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya told the M&G "the costs [of flying VIPs] actually do not exist as this is part of the SAAF operations on a daily basis". "The fixed cost to the SAAF as per our own price when we charge other departments is R14 748,54 per trip with a special rate for internal use by the minister," he said.

"It must be noted that this cost will be incurred [whether] a minister flies or not, because the planes will have to be used for training, pilots paid, etc, and runway[s] will still have to be maintained," he said.

More Cabinet members should use the air force, Mabaya said, "as [this] will provide real flying time for the pilots and also because resources for training are already allocated and many of our senior pilots have cited lack of flying time for leaving the air force".

Asked specifically about the rates for flying Sisulu Mabaya said: "We fly planes as our main business, [so] we can actually fly Cabinet members for free. The more hours we fly the better for our pilots and the country."

Young said the notion that these flights were free was "simply nonsense": "Flying not only has costs, but reduces the life of the aircraft."
And "one does not fly a Cabinet minister about in order to train pilots," he said.

"Flying hours are required in all types of aircraft, but there should be maximum use in true combat training aircraft such as Pilatus, Hawk and the two-seater Gripen, and a minimum in other classes," Young said.

Since the beginning of the year Sisulu has refused to answer DA parliamentary questions about her use of the SAAF VIP fleet, and has not comprehensively responded to questions about the 222 national and international flights for VIPs undertaken by the SAAF. - Read full article at Mail & Guardian

5 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Who flies the new SAP's larney plane??

Doberman said...

Probably these pilots too.

Anonymous said...

I love the way these people reason!

WHITEADDER said...

Best would be to stop pretending we have a airforce and let's rather call it the ANC apparatchicks personalised air service.

Anonymous said...

I can see why there is a shortage of pilots, the blacks are not qualified to fly these jets. Too bad the pilots can not eject the communist ANC VIP's 20,000 feet over the ocean!