SA air safety much improved

2010-10-13 21:44

Midrand – South Africa’s aviation authorities have improved safety within the country to such an extent that there are no major deficiencies, the Civil Aviation Authority’s commissioner told a conference on aviation safety.

Captain Colin Jordaan said that the situation in the country had improved drastically since an August 2007 audit by the US’s Federal Aviation Authority, which highlighted major weakness in South African civil aviation.

The FAA carries out audits regularly on countries that have air links with the US.

"We are probably one of the most compliant countries now," said Jordaan.

Jordaan was speaking at the 4th Annual National Safety Seminar being held in Midrand.

He said that in terms of the International Civil Aviation Organisation requirements, there were "no major areas where South Africa is deficient when it comes to meeting international standards."

Safety inspectors

He said the country now had safety inspectors for every type of aircraft. Many of these inspectors were checking aircraft across Africa.

Airline accidents generated "a lot of hype" in the media, he said referring to the December 2009 incident when an SA Airlink flight aquaplaned off the runway at the airport in George.

He told delegates that the moment there was an accident involving an airline it would be on page one of every newspaper.

The George accident showed that the ICAO standards were insufficient when applied to the George runway in certain weather conditions.

Jordaan urged delegates, who included representatives from airlines, airport operators, flight schools and aircraft maintenance companies among others, to go beyond the minimum standards of safety.

Eighty percent of aviation activities in SADC countries took place in South Africa, which has nearly 12 000 registered aircraft.

Soccer World Cup

During the Soccer World Cup, there was not a single aircraft accident despite a dramatic increase in air traffic.

The value parked at Lanseria Airport during the tournament exceeded the gross domestic product of some countries.

Thirty-three inspectors were deployed during the event to ensure air safety.

The success of dealing with the increased air traffic during the tournament had resulted in a recent visit from Brazilian aviation authorities to see how South Africa coped. Brazil hosts the next World Cup.

The government had realised the importance of aviation to the country’s growth.

"If people do not come to your country it’s not going to grow," Jordaan said.