Stuck in Tarawa

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—Airlines vital equipment grounded in Kiribati

BY BARNABAS MANEBONA

THE Solomon Airlines is again under the spotlight after one of its vital equipment used to allow the aircraft to function whilst on the ground was left back in Tarawa, Kiribati.

The Ground Power Units (GPU) is used to charge the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) an equipment used for starting Aircrafts was left back in Tarawa after the Airline was recently grounded.

According to a source, there should be back-up plans for the grounding as it is not known how soon the problem will be fixed.

The source also claimed that the Airlines did not have a history of plane breakdowns therefore questioning the expertise of the CEO and his management.

“The real cause to the problem was not known, further raising concerns if spare parts taken are genuine ones or if people hired to do the job of fixing the plane are doing the right thing.

“There has not been a history of breakdowns which raises questions about the integrity and expertise of the CEO and the Airlines Management in how the work people are looking after the aeroplanes and maintaining them.”

A question now being raised is the continuous issues going on in the Airlines compared to the past.

Solomon Airlines CEO Mr Brett Gebers said there is no need for the rescue of the GPU back from Tarawa as it is staying right where it is.

The CEO made this clarification after Solomon Airlines GPU is currently reported to be grounded at Tarawa with the need for rescue.

However according to Solomon Airlines CEO, they do not leave that sort of equipment running as it uses fuel.

“It does not need to be rescued back from Tarawa. It is staying right where it is. Nauru Airlines, Fiji Airways, Air Kiribati and Solomon Airlines will all need the equipment in Tarawa in the case of an occasional breakdown. We had a breakdown and we put the equipment there just prior to Christmas. There was no point in bringing it back as we purchased new equipment for Honiara,” said Brett.

“When the APU on the Airbus failed in Tarawa on 21 December, we sent our Honiara based equipment to Tarawa where it will remain in case Solomon Airlines or other airlines experience an APU failure there in the future.”

“Our new equipment was delivered to Honiara on Saturday. It would have been delivered sooner if we could have found a freighter earlier. But Christmas and New Year is a very busy time for all airlines and there has been a shortage of suitable freighter aircraft.”

“All large aircraft have an APU which is used for starting the aircraft. It is the one piece of equipment that is required to start the engines.

“If it fails as it does from time to time, including for Air Niugini in 2016 and Nauru Airlines when their aircraft delivered our equipment off in Tarawa, the aircraft is grounded until external equipment is available to start the engines.

“There are air start units and GPUs all over the world at major airports for this very reason. As Solomon Airlines grows, we will ensure that we have this equipment at all airports served by us. We will either own it or ensure that we can hire it if required.”

The CEO pointed out that all Solomon Airlines aircraft are only fitted with approved parts.

“They are all maintained by our staff in Honiara or in Brisbane by AMSA which is a division of Singapore Airlines Engineering.”

“These are all licensed organisations which are oversighted by numerous authorities. AMSA does maintenance for many carriers. All of our procedures are approved by CAASI, CASA, CAAF etc. We undergo numerous audits every year. Singapore Airlines Engineering is very large and a well respected company.”

“Unfortunately things break from time to time. All airlines experience breakdowns which often appear to come in batches.

If your car breaks down, is this anything to do with your integrity or expertise? I think not,” said the CEO in response to concern over his integrity and expertise of the Airlines Management in how the work people are looking after the aeroplanes and maintaining them.

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