George airport rules changed
Johannesburg - The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Tuesday changed restrictions put in place at George airport after flights there were diverted or delayed.
"The CAA has reassessed the George runway restrictions during wet conditions based on analysis of further tests conducted recently on the George Airport main runway," the CAA said in a statement.
"As a result of this reassessment it has been decided that commercial operators will be allowed to use the runway in wet conditions, provided that the aircraft type can safely take off and land with a 30% reserve distance available for the existing runway length."
On Monday, flights into George were cancelled due to bad weather and a restriction the CAA had put in place preventing airplanes over 5 700kg from landing at the airport when the runway was wet.
The revised restrictions requiring 30% of runway reserve distance will replace the previous weight limitations.
Now, any aircraft equipped with appropriate "thrust reverse and anti-skid braking systems" will be able to use the airport.
The restrictions come as a result of an incident in December when an Airlink-operated plane overran the runway. Tests done on the runway have so far been inconclusive.
Airports Company SA (Acsa) welcomed the SACAA's findings.
"In particular, we are very pleased with the SACAA's finding that the runway friction is within the limits prescribed in the SACAA's Civil Aviation Regulations and Technical Standards and by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, this following a series of rigorous friction tests conducted last Monday, 15 February 2010, at George Airport," Colin Naidoo, Acsa spokeperson for George Airport, said in a statement.
"We also support the SACAA's aspiration to determine the exact cause of the SA Airlink accident of 7 December 2009 and have thus co-operated fully with the SACAA during its investigations, requesting even further tests."
The company said it "remains hopeful that the SACAA will soon be in a position to lift the restriction that the George Airport runway be closed during rainy weather".
"George Airport is key to the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup with George and Knysna serving as base camps to visiting teams.
"Subsequently, if it is found that any work is required on the runway at George Airport, such work will be completed well ahead of the visiting teams' arrival in South Africa," Naidoo said.