Westair provides aerial surveillance for NGOs that protect the environment
India India Mike, a 182 belonging to Westair Aviation this week formally entered service as a surveillance aircraft at the disposal of the more than fifty environmental NGOs involved in the protection of wildlife. The use of the aeroplane is facilitated through the umbrella organisation, the Namibian Chamber of Environment, of which all the NGOs are members.
Henri van Schalkwyk of Westair told the Economist that this particular aircraft has seen many hours of service for the Save the Rhino Trust. “For several years, India India Mike has spent a few months per year at the trust to help them with aerial surveillance in the vast areas they protect” he said.
Explaining the formal agreement with the environmental chamber, van Schalkwyk said an informal arrangement was in place since April this year to see if it is workable. During this period, the aircraft has flown one sorty for the chamber. This week’s agreement formalised the relationship, ensuring that the chamber always has aerial backup available.
The NGO that uses India India Mike only has to pay for the fuel and the landing fees. Westair sponsors the aircraft’s flying hours and the pilot if one is not available from the ranks of the NGOs. Westair also covers all line maintenance while Welwitschia Insurance Brokers and Specialised Risk Management Ltd are sponsoring the insurance, a not insignificant part of the operational cost of any aeroplane.
If a member of the environmental chamber needs aerial support but does not have a pilot, Westair will help find an experienced pilot who will volunteer his or her time to fly the Cessna, as a contribution to conservation. Those pilots nominated by the NGOs do a standard proficiency test at Westair’s flying school, Westair Wings, after which they are cleared to fly India India Mike on its specialised missions.
Following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, Westair said the aircraft will fly for conservation. It will be used for aerial wildlife surveys, environmental monitoring and research, surveillance and anti-poaching, and any other similar work to promote conservation, law enforcement and protection of natural resources and Namibia’s environment.
Chairperson of the Namibian Chamber of Environment, Dr Chris Brown said that the chamber and its members are extremely grateful to Westair for their very generous support to the conservation sector, and also to Welwitschia and Specialised Risk Management.
Captured after formalising the agreement for the use of the Cessna 182 V5-IIM at Eros airport in Windhoek are from the left, Sonja Oosthuysen (Welwitschia Insurance Brokers), Mr Wolfgang Grellmann (Westair), Chris Brown (Chamber of the Environment), Charles Loots (Chairperson of the chamber’s Executive Committee) and Henri van Schalkwyk (Westair).