US aviation watchdog asks for meeting with local regulator

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The parties are due to meet soon to engage on the details of the consultation. (Getty Images)
The parties are due to meet soon to engage on the details of the consultation. (Getty Images)

The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has requested a meeting with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), sparking rumours about a possible audit of the local authority.

The SACAA confirmed that it has received a request from the FAA to have a consultation.

"The parties are due to meet soon to engage on the details of the consultation. We, therefore, prefer to wait for this engagement and cannot speculate," said acting SACAA spokesperson Marie Bray.

The FAA, which regulates civil aviation in the US - including air traffic management, certification of personnel and aircraft and setting standards for airports - said that it does not have "anything specific" on South Africa.

But it referred Fin24 to information on its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme in terms of which it determines whether another country's oversight of its air carriers that operate, or seek to operate, into the US, or codeshare with a US air carrier, complies with safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The IASA programme focuses on a country's ability - not the ability of individual air carriers - to adhere to international aviation safety standards and recommended practices for personnel licensing, operation of aircraft and airworthiness of aircraft.

An industry insider, who spoke to Fin24 on condition of anonymity, says there has been speculation that the FAA received a whistleblower report from South Africa about SACAA, which may trigger an audit of the qualifications and experience of SACAA's airline operations division inspectors, among other aspects. 

"Failing an FAA audit could [eventually lead to] the banning of SA registered aircraft from American airspace. This could lead to many other countries following suit and also banning SA registered aircraft," says the insider.

"[However,] if SACAA fails an FAA audit, it will likely be given time to make the appropriate corrections and improvements."

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