A former minister at the controls of an NGO’s planes

Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister of Transport for two years until last summer, devotes his free time to volunteering by flying for Aviation sans frontières.

By Thierry Vigoreux

Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, professional pilot and former Minister of Transport (here in 2022).
© DANIEL PIER / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP

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RDrawn from politics (or abandoned by it), Jean-Baptiste Djebbari returns to his first love: piloting planes. While joining the board of directors of Aviation sans frontières, he will dedicate part of his free time to volunteer piloting in the service of the NGO. Djebbari, at the National School of Civil Aviation (Énac), from which he graduated air traffic controller in 2007, trained in parallel to become an airplane pilot. Having obtained his professional pilot’s license, he flew in business aviation for NetJets then became director of flight operations within Jetfly, the Luxembourg company created by Cedric Lescop, a Falcon pilot.

On his flight log, Djebbari totals 2,200 hours as a co-pilot on the Pilatus PC12, a high-performance nine-seater business monoturboprop. 2,200 hours is a lot for a private pilot. This is the standard for a transport co-pilot who can start in a company with only 300 flight hours. The testers who flew with Djebbari during regular qualification renewals always noted a good piloting level.

READ ALSOThe green space of Thomas PesquetThe two ASF planes being Cessna Gran Caravan 208 (twelve passengers or one ton of emergency freight), the former minister had to pass a new qualification obtained recently (at his expense) at the EPAG NG school in Merville in the north. The Cessna’s engine, a PT6 turbine being the same as that of the Pilatus, the training was limited to 4.5 hours of flight, including the test, with a day and a half of theory on the ground. Djebbari is now fit to go on a mission for Aviation sans frontières. The first could occur in Madagascar by the end of the year. He will find there some of the fifteen volunteer pilots who alternate over the missions. If the European Space Agency gives him the opportunity, he could meet Thomas Pesquet. The French astronaut, also an ASF pilot, last year ferried from France to Congo the new Cessna acquired by the NGO.

Transport of prostheses

On the occasion of this “enthronement” of Djebbari, Aviation sans frontières mentioned the partnership with Handicap International. This association, among other things, manages the prostheses that patients in France can renew free of charge every five years. Those thus abandoned are revised and sent in parcels to the countries of the South. For this, ASF has the crew hold of Air France airliners.

In addition, to cover the last kilometer, on a difficult or even dangerous track, ASF would like to operate a drone capable of transporting 100 to 150 kilometers. Besides Africa, such a machine would be invaluable in Haiti where drugs intended to treat cholera are blocked at the exit of the airport by armed gangs and cannot be sent to their recipients without paying a ransom.

During the first five months of this year, ASF transported 2,450 passengers with its planes and delivered 25 tons of freight, mainly food supplements for children within the framework of missions commissioned by the UN. Gérard Feldzer, president of ASF and former captain at Air France, is never short of ideas for developing the NGO. He thinks of a plane-dispensary that would deliver sterile tents to bush airfields allowing medical teams to treat patients.

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