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Shipping & Logistics

Pilots get 45 more days to update their licences

A Kenya Airways plane at JKIA
A Kenya Airways plane at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Aviation regulator has extended the validity of pilot licences by 45 days, giving a relief to airlines whose aviators do not have up-to-date permits. This comes as Kenya Airways plans to have its pilots undergo proficiency test in Amsterdam over the next three months.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Director General Gilbert Kibe told Shipping and Logistics that after the extension lapses, all pilots must have current permits.

Mr Kibe said the move has been necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which made it difficult for most of the pilots to undergo proficiency test, especially for some of the aircraft such as Embraer 190, where pilots are trained outside the country.

Kenya does not have a simulator for Embraer 190 aircraft and local pilots are trained in either Johannesburg or Amsterdam.

The Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka said majority of its pilots who operate Embraer 190 would have to undergo proficiency test in order to make their licences current.

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“We have a few ones who are still current and who can continue flying but for majority of them we will need to find means of bringing them to currency,” said Mr Kilavuka (Left).

Pilots normally undergo proficiency training after sometime to keep their Commercial Pilot License (CPL) current and enable them to fly without posing risk to passengers.

Proficiency tests, which are done every six months, are meant to demonstrate competence of the pilot and affirm information given to the regulator, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).

The pilots’ training in South Africa or Netherlands has been restricted by closure of the airspace thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

President Uhuru Kenyatta eased restrictions last week allowing the carrier to start domestic flights today while international flights are slated for August 1.

KQ mainly uses Embraer 190 on domestic and regional routes.

Mr Kilavuka said they had negotiated with KCAA on alternative proficiency scoring, adding that they were given necessary extension after categorising the risks involved to ensure their pilots remain current and can fly safely.

He, however, said that they would not allow crew members with limited hours in flying to operate once the skies open.

“We will not allow those that have not had sufficient hours to continue operating but we are looking out to ensure that Embraer pilots can get alternative means of certification so that they can get flying once we resume operations,” he said.

Mr Kibe said the move to extend the licences is a global practice and does not compromise on the safety of the passengers.

There have been fears that KQ could face service disruptions when they resume flying.

However, Mr Kilavuka said they would have enough pilots for the domestic flights as each of the crew member would only be required to conduct a single flight in a month.

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