Monday, October 28, 2013

Ghanaian Artisans Manufacture Airplane

Wednesday October 23, 2013
The plane would make history if it succeeds in flying.

From Edmund Mingle, Akuse.
A group of youngmen has completed the manufacturing of a locally made airplane, using local materials.
 A test flight is being planned, and if it succeeds, it would become Ghana’s first locally made aircraft.

As part of the preparation for the test flight, the plane was taken through an engine, speed and brake testing exercise on an abandoned runway at Akuse in the Greater Accra region at the weekend. The testing also involved the assessment of the propeller and wind panels.
 According to the group, known as “Team Isaac,” experts from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority have inspected the plane and approved it with suggestions that some polishing was done on the body.

Led by Isaac Otu, 27, who is the mechanic and pilot, the group consists of Daniel Ponani, 28, a business administration graduate from University of Professional Studies who worked on the body and wings, Joseph Sarpong, 23, an IT student who works on the wings, Kofi Yeboah, 34 and Isaac Kombat-Dantiar, 34, both electricians, James Larbi, the gear and brake engineer and Patrick Kofi Kumi, who is in charge of logistics.

The plane ready for the testing

It is the culmination of years of work and creativity by the youngmen inspired by a shared determination to achieve their long cherished dream.


As part of Saturday’s testing exercise, the plane sped several times on the about 900 meter runway, as the members of the group rectified minor defects on the 40 horsepower engine, braking system and wind control panels.


During one of the speeding sessions, the plane took off momentarily above the runway, but the pilot had to land it because flying was not part of the day’s exercise.

 The engine, which runs on petrol, is a used Volkswagen engine that was redesigned by the group to drive the propeller of the plane.


Built with aluminum sheets, the body of the plane is built around a frame of iron square pipes.

It has control system connected to the radar and elevator panels attached to the wings. It also has a speedometer, pressure and fuel meters built on the dashboard, and a six-gallon capacity fuel tank.
Members of the group fixing the plane for the test run.
The plane, built by the group at Dome Pillar Two, a suburb of Accra, was conveyed to Akuse in a truck. It had to be dismantled for easy transportation and re-assembled at Akuse for the testing.
The testing exercise ended when the propeller unfortunately broke off due to high speed.

But the group said the breaking of the propeller was good.

“It is very good for use since we will now build a new propeller that can withstand the speed of the engine,” said Daniel Ponani, who acts as the spokesman.

Asked whether the plan can really fly, he answered in the positive.

“You witnessed today’s exercise, and we are sure that it will be in the air,” he told this Reporter.
Asked how much they have invested in the product, he could not quantity it, saying “all our little resources have gone into this.”

According to Daniel, the group continues to encounter numerous challenges, including finance to get modern parts for the plane, adding that only their determination has helped them to get to current stage.

“We want to show that it is possible to manufacture these planes here in Ghana, and we need support to be able to get a new engine,” he said.

This Reporter had a feel of the aircraft.

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