Thursday, 24 May 2018

SA Express operators certificate suspended

The South African Civil Aviation Authority has suspended South African Express's Air Operator's Certificate as well as the airline's Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO) approvals. 

In addition, the SACAA has also suspended the certificates of airworthiness of nine of the twenty-one aircraft being operated by the airline. This means that, as of today, SA Express can no longer continue to operate as an airline. 

The decision to revoke the airline's permits comes after the SACAA conducted an audit at the airline and its maintenance organisation over the last few days, which uncovered severe cases of non-compliance that posed serious safety risks.  The SACAA has refused to make public what thse risks were exactly or the full details of the audit, however it did elaborate that there were nearly 20 serious failings, and five of those were so serious that a real threat to security or safety.

The airline could not ensure that operational requirements, and most importantly, safety obligations are met at all times. Therefore, the grounding of SA Express operations was inevitable, because in simpler terms the safety management system of the airline was found to be deficient. “As the custodian of aviation safety and security in the country, the SACAA cannot turn a blind eye to any operation where there is overwhelming evidence that safety measures are compromised, because that automatically poses serious danger for the crew, passengers, and the public at large,” said Ms Poppy Khoza, who leads the SACAA as Director of Civil Aviation.

“The SACAA is fully aware and regrets the inconvenience and disruption this decision would have on passengers, however, it is equally important to note that decisions to revoke licences are naturally challenging, but are necessary and in the interests of ensuring that the operator‟s safety systems are beyond reproach and that its aircraft can take-off and land at the intended destinations relatively safely and incident-free,” Khoza explained. Following this grounding, it is expected that the operator would make arrangements with the SACAA to fly all affected aircraft back to the home base.

“The SACAA as the regulator implores all operators and licence-holders to uphold unquestionable levels of aviation safety and security at all times. Compliance to the applicable regulations is mandatory and should never be treated as an after-thought or an optional operational requirement. We should all work towards keeping our skies safe in order to preserve lives; and in the process maintain South Africa‟s impeccable zero percent (0%) accident fatality record in the airline and scheduled operations sector, which has been standing for many years,” Khoza concluded