Civil Aviation Authority to continue with CemAir audit

The South African Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement on Friday that it has reviewed the judgment handed down by the Civil Aviation Appeal Committee following an appeal brought against the SACAA by CemAir.

The airline's appeal related to four notices issued by the SACAA, which resulted in the suspension of the airline's Part 121 and 135 Air Operator Certificates (AOCs) as well as the resultant grounding of the airline's fleet during the course of the CemAir AOC renewal audit in December 2018 and January 2019.

The decision of the CAAC, which was delivered by the Tribunal on 29 April 2019, set aside the two grounding notices issued by the SACAA against CemAir, and referred the matter back to the SACAA to continue with its audit and consider the evidence provided by CemAir subsequent to the issuing of the grounding notices.

The CAAC found that "the wide discretion afforded to the CAAC must be balanced against the interests of the Applicant and the responsibility of the Regulator in overseeing aviation safety...".

The implications of the Tribunal's decision, according to the SACAA, is that CemAir is still not permitted to operate as an airline or utilise any of its aircraft commercially, pending the renewal audit process being finalised, and the operator being issued with the relevant operating certificates or approvals.

"The actions expected to be undertaken by the director of civil aviation, as well as by both the SACAA and CemAir, as outlined in the ruling, are unambiguous, and as a result, I have already delegated my functions in terms of legislation to the SACAA's Aviation Safety Operations to immediately implement the recommendations of the CAAC," commented Poppy Khoza, director of Civil Aviation.

"It is also in the interest of aviation development and safety to have this matter resolved as quickly as possible. However, in practical terms, the pace of finalising this matter is in the hands of the airline."

She said the regulator will rely on CemAir's cooperation in relation to the submission of the relevant documents and records, as well as any other evidence that will contribute to the speedy completion of the inspection.

The SACAA's Aviation Safety Operations division has also sent communication to the airline detailing the SACAA's preliminary requirements for the renewal audit, which will entail the AOC renewal audit and inspections pertaining to the certification of airworthiness of the CemAir fleet.

"The SACAA is very keen to see the airline back in the air and as soon as practically possible, and hence the necessary arrangements have been made to ensure that its inspectorate can instantly start auditing the airline," according to the SACAA statement.

"The primary role of the SACAA is to preserve lives by ensuring high standards of aviation safety and security. No regulator in the world or any other industry can achieve this if they do not discharge their mandate in a fair but firm manner, and most importantly, without any form of favouritism or fear," Khoza concluded.

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