Students at the East African Civil Aviation Academy in Soroti are struggling for a single aircraft for their flying practice following the breakdown of the remaining aircrafts.
In 2010, government procured six Cessna 172 aircrafts for Soroti Flying School bringing the number of aircrafts at the school to eight.
However, two of the aircrafts crashed early this year while two others were grounded after they developed mechanical problems. One Cessna aircraft registration number 5 X-UAT crashed on February 4th, 2013 in Gweri Sub-county in Soroti, while another crash landed near the runway at the school barely two weeks after
The old aircraft registration number 5X-UWD which has been in working condition was also dismantled and grounded. Four of the new aircrafts were also grounded after their propellers developed cracks and are due for repair in Nairobi Kenya. Currently only one aircraft 5X-VIC is functioning.
Joseph Otialuk Maraka, the Vice Guild President East African Civil Aviation Academy says there is urgent need for government to intervene and address problems surrounding the academy.
According to Otialuk trainee pilots need to fly for at least an hour each day to acquire the required experience in order to be passed out as a competent pilot. He said that currently due to the breakdown of planes only six out of 75 student pilots can get the chance to fly in a day.
East African Civil Aviation Academy has a total population of 108 students. One of the students who spoke to URN on condition of anonymity for fear of being reprimanded by the school administration said, he has taken over a month without flying practice. Otialuk pointed out that, currently most of the trainees just sit chatting in the dining halls waiting to eat and relax in their rooms.
One of the engineers who spoke to Red Pepper Online on condition of anonymity said the propellers of the new aircrafts developed cracks after they were hit by flying stones at the runway. He further explained that they can’t allow students to fly using the aircrafts because in dangerous mechanical condition.
Ronald Lodiong, the Acting Director East African Civil Aviation Academy has not yet commented as he neither picked nor returned calls from our reporter.