No flights out of Oribi yet

2010-01-12 00:00

THE first SA Airlink Jetstream 41 aircraft to be re-certified by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) took to the air on Friday, but not to Pietermaritzburg’s Oribi Airport.

The city will have to wait at least another week before there are any flights to and from Oribi. According to Airlink, this will happen if more aircraft are re-certified and released by CAA.

Msunduzi’s acting manager for municipal enterprises, Dr Julie Dyer, said she has been assured by Airlink that Pietermaritzburg is a high priority on their list and provided more aircraft are released they will endeavour to get a service going by next week.

She said the airline company has been in touch with her on a daily basis so she knows that they are trying their best.

There have been no Airlink flights in and out of Pietermaritzburg ever since the CAA grounded all J41 aircraft on Christmas Eve. This was after several incidents involving the aircraft. Investigations revealed that the problem could be linked to a technical malfunction within the engine. Honeywell, the U.S.-based engine manufacturers, have been involved in sorting out the problem.

The CAA has confirmed that one of the Airlink J41s has been cleared and that other inspections are still under way. It said these will probably be quicker than the first, since the same maintenance management system applies to all the J41s.

Meanwhile, the suspensions and its “commitment to consistent client service” has prompted Airlink to rent alternative airplanes.

“I will not give up. The events of the past three weeks have only forced us to speed up the process of rebuilding and revamping, which would otherwise have taken place only far into the future,” Rodger Foster, chief executive of the airline, said yesterday.

The first two of four additional Embraer 135 planes will depart from the U.S. on Friday, while the other two will arrive in South Africa before the end of the month.

However, the airline has decided to permanently cancel its routes between George and Bloemfontein; Port Elizabeth and East London; Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein; and Nelspruit and Livingstone, Zambia.

Two of Airlink’s accidents, including a fatal crash in Durban, were suspected to have been caused by the same problem with a seal in the engines.

It has since become clear that the incident in Durban was caused by a secondary human error.

The other incident at Nelspruit was caused by a lack of oil pressure.

“We still have a long way to go to restore passengers’ faith in Airlink. I can, however, give the assurance that the CAA will not release a single plane if it isn’t 100% safe,” Foster said.

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