News24

George airport just partially closed

2010-02-22 19:07

Johannesburg - Monday's closure of George airport due to rain was "not a total closure", the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said.

"It was not a total closure. Certain aircraft within a particular weight should not be taking off or landing when it is wet," said CAA spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba.

The CAA has been investigating the runway conditions at George airport since December when an Airlink plane overran the runway onto a private road.

The most recent "friction tests" were conducted on February 15.

 "The results indicated that the runway friction is within the prescribed limits," said Ledwaba.

"This presents a challenge when viewed against the fact that the data from the aircraft flight data recorder indicates that all systems appear to have functioned normally.

Solution sought

The CAA said it would continue to investigate the accident until a solution could be conclusively reached.

"It is clear that something had to cause the overshooting of the runway at the time, and the cause has to be identified in order to prevent a recurrence of the same accident."

The CAA had since issued a warning restricting all aircraft landing at George airport in wet conditions to no more than 5 700kg, said CAA spokesperson Phindile Gwebu.

According to Airliners.net, the Airlink craft which overran the runway in December would have weighed approximately 20 000kg.

Diversions up to airlines

Gwebu said the restriction had been in place for a week, but gained notice only on Monday due to the weather conditions at George.

She said that the diversion of any other aircraft was at the discretion of the airlines.

"The onus is on the airline to check the weather conditions and then inform the passengers whether they're diverting," said Gwebu.

She said that until the reason for December's accident could be determined and addressed, the restrictions would remain in place.

Gwebu said that any possible repairs to the runway would take one or two weeks.
"I cannot tell you when it [the testing] will be complete, but I can say it is a priority," she said.