Landing lights lacking

2017-08-28 12:06
Msunduzi Municipality said it has plans to address safety concerns at the airport.

Msunduzi Municipality said it has plans to address safety concerns at the airport. (File)

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An airline company that uses the Pietermaritzburg Airport has raised concerns about the airport’s runway approach lighting system.

This comes after Msunduzi Municipality’s shocking admission that the entire airfield lighting at the airport had been compromised by the use of inferior materials and lack of understanding of specifications.

SA Airlink spokesperson Karin Murray said the approach lighting system at the airport is unserviceable, and the airline is worried about the impact it may have on the reliability of the system.

“The runway approach lighting system does not work although the runway edge and end lighting system does. The net result is when approaching the runway at night and during conditions of low cloud, it makes it more difficult for the pilots to identify the runway environment and this can lead to a missed approach and a possible diversion,” she said.

Murray said this situation has prevailed for over a year.

Msunduzi Municipality said it has plans to address safety concerns at the airport.

Acting municipal manager Sizwe Hadebe said the city has already started attending to some of the problems compromising flight safety at the airport.

A report tabled during the Executive Committee meeting on Thursday said overall flight safety at the airport had been compromised by an infrastructure collapse and the assignment of non-aviation trained and inexperienced contractors.

Hadebe said some of the safety concerns arose as a result of a glitch in a tender process for the airport.

He said the city had awarded some tenders without specifications.

“The issue was only raised when the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) came to inspect the airport. At that time the contractor was already doing work.

“We have rectified the problem in the new contracts that we have awarded. We have included the specifications,” he said.

Hadebe said the issue was not the quality of work delivered by those contractors, but that they had no aviation training or experience.

He said the city had repaired the airfield lighting after it was pointed out by the audit.

The audit found the entire airfield lighting had been compromised by the use of inferior materials and lack of understanding of specifications.

“We have removed all the wrong specifications. That is why there are no flights that have been redirected to other airports. All the flights scheduled at the airport have landed,” said Hadebe.

Hadebe said the city was working on finding its own training simulator.

The airport is currently using a flight simulator at King Shaka Airport.

“SACAA have asked as to come up with timeframes on when are we planning on having our own simulator because it is a requirement. We are busy working on that,” he said.

SACAA spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba they were aware some lights were not serviceable at Oribi Airport.

“This means only daylight operations can be conducted at the airport … in this regard, the licence-holder duly published the mandatory NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) …” Ledwaba said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  pietermaritzburg airport

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