- The SA Civil Aviation Authority has suspended certain air traffic navigation procedures at more than ten airports.
- This was due to noncompliance found during an audit.
- An affected procedure could include the instrument landing system (ILS) - usually used when visibility is poor.
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The SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has suspended certain air traffic navigation procedures at more than ten airports due to noncompliance.
An affected procedure, for example, could be that the instrument landing system (ILS) - usually used when visibility is poor - is suspended. This has already caused delays at some airports on Wednesday, according to an industry insider.
Planes will still be able to land in good visual conditions.
SACAA confirmed to News24 on Thursday that, as part of its routine oversight activities, the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) was audited in line with requirements of SA Civil Aviation Regulations.
Where it was found that ATNS was not compliant with the maintaining each flight approval procedure as prescribed, the ATNS had to submit a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) "demonstrating the mitigation of safety risks that emanates from this non-compliance".
While the SACAA found some of these mitigations acceptable, the ATNS had not submitted mitigation measures for all the affected procedures. As a result, the SACAA suspended those procedures until a satisfactory level of aviation safety is achieved.
According to the SACAA, the suspension period is "very fluid", and is dependent on ATNS submitting measures that, after being evaluated, mitigate safety risk.
"The SACAA does not take such actions lightly. Disruptions that may be encountered resulting from enforcement actions are unfortunate. However, upholding the country's aviation safety remains paramount and must remain prioritised at all times," states the SACAA.
The airports affected by this decision include: Bram Fischer International Airport (Mangaung), Cape Town International Airport (Western Cape), King Phalo International Airport (Eastern Cape), George Airport (Western Cape), Kimberley Airport (Kimberley), Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport (Gqeberha), Pietermaritzburg Airport (KZN), Pilanesburg Airport (North West), Polokwane International Airport (Limpopo), Richards Bay Airport (KZN) and Upington Airport (Northern Cape).
ATNS responded on Friday to say it is engaging with the SACAA to address the audit findings. It has submitted mitigations, which have been accepted by the SACAA.
Furthermore, it is continuing with the submission of further corrective action plans for risk mitigation, and preparing an application for exemption for certain categories of civil aviation procedures at some airports.The ATNS says it regrets the inconvenience caused by the precautionary suspensions and that safety remains its topmost priority.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is currently conducting a 12-day Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) Continuous Monitoring Approach (CMA) audit of SA's civil aviation safety system and oversight capabilities with the audit concluding on 3 April 2023.
ICAO is a specialised agency of the United Nations, created to promote the safe and orderly development of civil aviation across the world.
Airlink announced on Thursday afternoon that some of its operations at the airports in Pietermaritzburg and Richards Bay have been disrupted by the suspension of certain instrument-assisted flight approaches which came into effect on Tuesday.
"Airlink will never compromise the safety and wellbeing of our passengers, crews and our aircraft. We are doing our best to minimise any disruptions and delays. In the meantime, we urge the responsible aeronautical agencies to quickly restore full air navigation services at the affected airports," Airlink CEO and Managing Director Rodger Foster said in a statement.
* This article was updated with comment by ATNS and Airlink.