Alarm over airport safety

2017-08-25 11:43
Report cites problems with lights and shortage of staff.

Report cites problems with lights and shortage of staff. (File)

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The Msunduzi Municipality has raised red flags over the flight safety standards at the Pietermaritzburg Airport.

The city said problems with the runway and landing lights and shortage of runway staff could potentially place the safety of passengers at risk.

The city on Thursday made these shocking admissions and revealed that the overall flight safety at the airport has been compromised.

The executive committee meeting on Thursday heard about the safety concerns caused by a combination of factors including compliance, maintenance and contracts issues.

The report prepared by general manager for economic development Dr Ray Ngcobo revealed that some tenants had escalated their concerns to the city management.

In the report, Ngcobo said the overall safety at the airport had been compromised by the infrastructure collapse and the assignment of non-aviation trained and inexperienced contractors.

There are at least three maintenance projects that the city needed to undertake at the airport and they only have the budget for two.

The report, which covers the period of April 2017 and May 2017, revealed that there were seven incidents at the airport during that period, three of which were bird strikes.

There was no operations supervisor or security supervisor to man the airport, the committee heard.

The report revealed that the entire airfield lighting system at the airport had been compromised.

According to the report, the airport currently operates six scheduled flights per day, in and out on weekdays; four on Saturday and six flights on Sundays.

The report gave an assessment of the airport’s maintenance needs:

“Hangars are in a poor condition and tenants are not pleased since their aircraft are getting damaged. Budget is also an issue in this regard.”


“The major faults with the airfield lighting are due to cabling. Runway lights and landing lights over the years have been repaired by different contractors and the cabling system is suffering.

“The use of inferior quality materials and lack of understanding of the specifications has compromised the entire airfield lighting system.”


“A structural engineer had been engaged to conduct a complete assessment of the building and provide a report and breakdown of work to be done.”

The report recommended that the airport must deal with staffing issues, saying the airport needed to move with speed in appointing operations supervisor and security supervisor as these positions were critical.

“The airport cannot be manned by the manager and an administrative officer only.

“A training simulator is required for the firefighting personnel to conduct practical training. In the interim, a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) is in place between Pietermaritzburg Airport and King Shaka Airport fire and rescue services to use their simulator for the training of our personnel. However, a simulator is still a requirement as per SACAA(SA Civil Aviation Authority),” warned the report.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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