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What’s it like flying in the Republic of the Congo?

African Aviation Regional issues that affect the numerous pilots who work in this area of the world.

What’s it like flying in the Republic of the Congo?

Old 30th Apr 2021, 02:07
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Seattle
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What’s it like flying in the Republic of the Congo?

Hi guys & gals,

Does anyone have any first hand experience of flying/working in the Republic of the Congo?

BoeingDriver99 is offline  
Old 30th Apr 2021, 09:47
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Wisbech, cambs
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Contact in the DRC

There is a user on here by the name of Mobotu who is a commercial pilot in the dark continent who hails from a former British Colony..He was most helpful to me when I was looking for a particular airframe in the DRC...He started the post... You know you are in Arica when....its not suggested reading unless you want to have a real chuckle...He also provided some invaluable factual information for a United Kingdom Coroners enquiry when the facts were muddled with rumour
Dave Sharpe is offline  
Old 2nd May 2021, 05:11
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Ok thanks, will message him privately
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Old 3rd May 2021, 22:10
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I've spent some time flying in the DRC while working for a European operator.

It's a huge country, see this image on Wikipedia to get a sense of how big it is: Congo overlaid onto USA map

It is a dangerous country to work and fly in. There are a number of reasons for this. There is political instability, and the government does not control large parts of the country - hence there is no security in large parts of the country. Airports & airfields are not maintained, there is no budget to do so. Consequently you will find (for example) very big potholes in the runway of the main international airport at Kinshasa, or the last 2,500 feet of a runway at another major airport still covered with lava from a volcano that erupted decades ago.

If you are considering working for a Congolese operator - don't. You can expect overloads, poor or non-existent maintenance, and the operator trying to pay you with monkey money (local currency) at the end of the month instead of hard currency.

If you are considering working for a first-world operator who will be flying in the Congo, be aware that living there is very much a hardship post, and you will need to get numerous vaccinations before you set foot in the country.

I spent many years working in Africa, primarily in war relief in the middle of various civil wars. If I had a choice between being posted in Somalia or being posted in Congo, I would pick Somalia in a heartbeat.

Hope this gives some perspective.
V1... Ooops is offline  
Old 7th May 2021, 18:28
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V1 Ooops - A very well written reply and spot on the truth. You should write a book of your travels!
smellytailwind is offline  
Old 12th May 2021, 20:44
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If you have family depending on you - don´t go. If your looking for a mildly serious adventure are in your early 20ies and your mother can live without you - pick you chance. I had a couple of adventures in Africa - though based in Kenya and Tanzania, which compared to DRC are much safer place - but even they can be hostile if you don´t quite know how to hold your own. Good luck.
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Old 13th May 2021, 11:45
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Just an observation, but the ROC referred to by the OP is not the same as the DRC. ROC was formerly the French Congo whereas the DRC was Belgian.

They are very different in many respects.
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Old 13th May 2021, 19:48
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You are very right in that, caiman27. I ignorantly assumed DRC, so for my part that was a mistake. I don´t have any personal experience to share about the ROC. Thank you for bringing forward this not unimportant detail.
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Old 13th May 2021, 21:29
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Why? They are the same indigenous people. Sub saharan Africans have been on our planet for longer than caucasians so why would brief contact with “french” or “belgian” caucasians change the way they behave?
Trim Stab is offline  
Old 13th May 2021, 23:14
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There are many different tribes in Africa and some are more warlike than others. There are on going feuds which date back centuries, such as the Huti vs Tutsi which led to genocide in Rwanda. This is referred to as tribalism rather than racialism.

You could have two aggressive groups engaged in a civil war over oil, such as Biafra in the 1960s. However if you move a few hundred miles you might find a peaceful country with nothing to fight over.

Botswana has very few problems and flying there wouldn’t be too difficult. Angola, Nigeria or the DRC need special characters working there.
krismiler is offline  
Old 14th May 2021, 07:45
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I worked in Zaire as an engineer 93/94; it was largely a grim experience and won't have been improved by its name change. The company I worked for was Scandinavian-owned, well-run, looked after their staff and we always got paid on time and in US dollars; the local currency was pretty worthless and inflation went up by the day. The country was riddled by corruption, stealing was normal, maintenance by most outfits was appalling or non-existent and there seemed to be accidents every month. Be prepared for power and water cuts, no street lighting, general inefficiency and having to pay bribes to 'oil the wheels'. It was the only way to get a guaranteed trouble-free track through the N'djili airport pax departures procedure in my experience and well-worth it. To be fair, the social life wasn't too bad if you knew where to go (the Spikizi and Domino in Kinshasa for example) and it was entertaining to see what passes as motor transport.
It's true that Republic of Congo's reputation was better than that of the DRC. Mobutu's influence probably had a lot to do with it. As krismiler says, Botswana is probably one of the most stable countries in Africa; I spent about seven years in Gaborone and Maun and it was the polar opposite of the DRC.
But if you're young, single and want some 'interesting' experiences, try a spell in the DRC. I doubt if the country's changed for the better in its sixty years of independence.

Last edited by stevef; 14th May 2021 at 14:17.
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Old 23rd May 2021, 20:54
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Join Date: Mar 2012
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Yes I've been in the region since 1998
Raffles S.A. is offline  
Old 24th May 2021, 14:17
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As has been pointed RoC is NOT DRC. I never flew but I spent some time there 6 years back. Brazzaville is much safer and much quieter than their neighbors across the river. The big man in charge has been in power for a very, very long time. For better or worse, the country has been mostly stable as long as it's been on my radar - aside from isolated events, generally surrounding elections, here and there.

The people are friendly and the beer is cheap 😎
linkebungu is offline  
Old 24th May 2021, 23:46
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Join Date: Feb 2017
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The closest two capitals in the world, Brazzaville and Kinshasa face each other across the Congo river. But they are worlds apart.
Brazzaville is quite pleasant, and Point Noire on the Atlantic coast is also a very nice place to work. DRC on the other hand, is the a******e of the world. Avoid.
Konyagi is offline  
Old 25th May 2021, 08:15
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Join Date: Aug 2000
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Fwiw, I was recently in both Brazzaville / RoC and Kinshasa / DRC.

Much as described above, Brazzaville is quite relaxed. The crew & I stay there at the Radisson Blu Hotel (directly adjacent to the Congo River with a view of Kinshasa on the opposite bank). It's a nice hotel for sure but it's also expensive. It has a nice pool area. There's a rather good riverside restaurant, called Mami Wata, a 5 minute walk from the hotels front door. There's also a supermarket down the road and the cashpoint ATM's work. The airport is a 15 minute drive away. I quite like Brazzaville.

Meanwhile, over on the other side of the river, in Kinshasa, I've stayed there in the Pullman Grand Hotel (it has a very nice pool) and also the Memling Hotel, with both located in the city centre albeit that the Memling is smack-bang in the middle of the city centre which is not somewhere to go walking about at night (and it can even be intimidating during the day... and I write that as a bloke who lives in Liberia! )
Depending upon the time of day, the airport can be anything from a 1 hour to a 2 hour drive to / from the city centre.... with the drive not being for the faint of heart. Last time I was there (a couple of weeks ago) the powers-that-be imposed a night-time curfew on the city and its environs which involved a paramilitary armed police roadblock every kilometre between the city centre and the airport. Such was the intimidating effect of said roadblocks that a couple of members of my cabin crew were reduced to tears by it all, albeit that I pointed out to them that having paramilitary police stopping us at gunpoint was probably far better than the alternative of being stopped by armed bandits, but I don't think that concept consoled them.

As with much of the rest of Africa, for a modest consideration, a chap can have a lot a fun & adventure in either of the RoC or DRC.

Living & working in Africa can be described as being akin to Marmite, i.e. you either love it or hate it... and I love it !
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