In a first for the aviation industry in Botswana, Wilderness Air has announced the company’s substantial investment in a state-of-the-art flight simulator which will be based in Maun, creating exceptional opportunities for skills training and local citizen empowerment.
“Investing in infrastructure for enhanced operational excellence, as well as to attract, train and grow Batswana into the aviation sector, are areas of great focus for us as a business. We are extremely proud to be the first company in Maun to be investing in such high-tech equipment and training facilities for up-and-coming young pilots. This is in addition to existing training programmes. We want to further ensure that talent in the sector is deepened, so young pilots in the industry are groomed to take on increasingly ambitious and demanding roles. In addition to the purchase of the flight simulator, we will also be investing in an Aviation Training Organisation (ATO), which will not only benefit the aviation and tourism industries in Botswana, but also our neighbouring countries”, noted Kago Paul, Wilderness Air Botswana Accountable Manager.
The C208 Flight Simulation Training Device (FSTD) will be equipped with a functional two-crew flight deck replicating the Cessna 208 Caravan, and an instructor’s station for training session monitoring and introduction of system failures and emergencies. “Purchased from Aviamech, who have been in the industry for over 24 years as both a manufacturer and ATO through Simuflight, this investment will be a complete game changer in the industry; not only in terms of training and pilot development but also for flight safety”, added Kago.
Instead of making use of an expensive motion platform, the FSTD utilises a multi-channel projector-based “out of the cockpit” visual system to enhance the immersion into, and realism of, the training environment. Through specific customised software modules, the simulation of aircraft handling and flying characteristics, as well as aircraft systems, is achieved.
The simulator, a coveted piece of technology in the industry, is a considerable investment for the business. It is at present being built by the manufacturer and will be installed during 2023, once construction is complete and the various licensing and regulatory processes have been completed. Investment in such equipment, and the training that follows for its use, are just two means through which the business is also working to contribute to Botswana’s ambitions of growing into a knowledge-based economy.
Since 1991, Wilderness Air Botswana has been the proud air partner of Okavango Wilderness Safaris, connecting guests to remote tourist destinations in northern Botswana, including Chobe, the Linyanti and the Okavango Delta, as well as the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Maintaining a reputation for steadfast operations and excellent guest service, Wilderness Air has grown significantly over the past 30 years, expanding beyond Botswana to Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with meet-and-greet services at all regional flight bases, and VIP airport lounges in Maun, Kasane, Windhoek and Victoria Falls. Northern Air Maintenance in Maun services the entire fleet of aircraft for the Group.
Said Okavango Wilderness Safaris Chairman, Kabelo Binns, “As two proudly Botswana businesses under the Wilderness banner, Wilderness Air Botswana and Northern Air Maintenance are not only impressive revenue-generating operations for the local economy, but also providers of numerous employment and training opportunities for citizens – with the General Managers of both businesses being Batswana. This new addition to our business enhances the company’s commitment to residents’ empowerment, and we are looking forward to continuing to train and develop local talent to ensure that Batswana pilots remain amongst the best in the world”.
“Wilderness Air has always been more than a connection – our flights form an integral part of a guest’s journey with Wilderness, providing a thrilling aerial perspective of the landscape. We will continue to focus on maintaining a reputation for steadfast operations and efficient schedules for our guests and staff, while naturally focusing on safety, compliance and risk mitigation at the same time”, Kago concluded.