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South Africa aviation regulator says SAA planes are safe

South Africa aviation regulator says SAA planes are safe

South Africa

<h2 style="font-size:16px;"><span class="caps">SAA</span> says grounding not related to financial stress </h2> <p>The faults found at <span class="caps">SAA</span> Technical have focused attention on the crisis at <span class="caps">SAA</span>, which hasn’t made an annual profit since 2011 or published financial results since 2017 because of question marks over its long-term viability as a business.</p> <p><span class="caps">SAA</span> has floundered with an unprofitable route network and a fleet of ageing and inefficient airplanes.</p> <p>Tlali said it was too early to quantify the financial impact from the grounding of its planes, dismissing an allegation that the faults were linked to SAA’s perilous financial position.</p> <p>“None of the audit findings made at <span class="caps">SAA</span> Technical can reasonably be associated with the state of finances we are experiencing at the moment,” Tlali said. </p> <p>“No case has been made to support this claim because none exists.” </p> <p>The audit made two serious findings: that inadequately qualified personnel had signed off on maintenance work and that maintenance checks on flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders had not been done correctly, Khoza said.</p> <p>Other findings included <span class="caps">SAA</span> Technical’s failure to implement previous findings and lapses in its quality management system.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">SACAA</span> has since accepted a “corrective action plan” from <span class="caps">SAA</span> Technical, which maintains aircraft for <span class="caps">SAA</span>, its subsidiary Mango Airlines and British Airways franchise partner Comair , which also operates under the kulula.com brand.</p> <h2 style="font-size:16px;">Regulator gives update on status of <span class="caps">SAA</span> planes</h2> <p>The the head of South Africa’s aviation regulator said on Thursday that forty of the 46 airplanes grounded this week owing to faults found at the maintenance unit of state-owned South African Airways (<span class="caps">SAA</span>) have been returned to service.</p> <p>South African Civil Aviation Authority (<span class="caps">SACAA</span>) Chief Executive Poppy Khoza told a news conference the regulator had made five findings during an audit at <span class="caps">SAA</span> Technical, after which it issued a prohibition order stopping some aircraft from flying.</p> <p>Twenty-five <span class="caps">SAA</span> planes had been grounded this week, 14 Comair planes and seven Mango Airlines planes, Khoza said.</p> <p>That led to domestic flight cancellations and delays on Tuesday. Disruptions had eased by Wednesday.</p> <p><span class="caps">SAA</span> spokesman Tlali Tlali had told Reuters on Wednesday evening that more than 80% of SAA’s affected aircraft were back in service.</p> <p><span class="caps">SACAA</span> chairman Ernest Khosa said South Africans were safe in the skies after the intervention by the regulator.</p> <h2 style="font-size:16px;">Grounded planes back in service</h2> <p>South African Airways (<span class="caps">SAA</span>) and Comair on Wednesday returned some grounded planes to service, a day after safety regulators flagged maintenance problems.</p> <p>Flights were departing Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport as normal on Wednesday morning, a passenger service representative for Airports Company South Africa said.</p> <p>Comair said it expected no disturbances on Wednesday, after at least eight of its domestic flights were disrupted on Tuesday.</p> <p><span class="caps">SAA</span>, which had 25 aircraft affected by the regulators’ safety audit, declined to comment.</p> <h2 style="font-size:16px;"><span class="caps">SAA</span> reschedules flights</h2> <p>South African Airways (<span class="caps">SAA</span>) and British Airways partner Comair on Tuesday rescheduled at least a dozen domestic flights on Tuesday after a safety inspection at SAA’s maintenance subsidiary used by both carriers found problems.</p> <p>The South African Civil Aviation Authority (<span class="caps">SACAA</span>) said it had inspected a few aircraft at South African Airways Technical and issued a prohibition order until the faults had been fixed.</p> <p>It did not disclose what the faults were or which aircraft type was affected, citing confidentiality agreements.</p> <p>The regulator said it had accepted a corrective action plan by SAA’s maintenance unit and that <span class="caps">SAA</span> and Comair’s decision to “self-ground” some aircraft was a precautionary measure.</p> <p>“SAA understands that the inspection conducted by <span class="caps">SACAA</span> was in accordance with its regulations and a necessary exercise to ensure compliance and safety,” said cash-strapped <span class="caps">SAA</span>, which is dependent on government bailouts for its survival.</p> <p><span class="caps">SAA</span> said in a statement it had cancelled four domestic flights but that it would combine flights and deploy bigger aircraft to accommodate affected passengers. It did not specify how many aircraft it had recalled.</p> <p><span class="caps">SAA</span> spokesman Tlali Tlali said no international flights had been affected and would depart normally from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport on Tuesday evening.</p> <p><span class="caps">SAA</span> mainly operates Airbus aircraft on its passenger routes, while subsidiary Mango Airlines operates Boeing aircraft, he said.</p> <h2 style="font-size:16px;">Partner airlines affected</h2> <p>Mango Airlines said there would be some delays on flights throughout Tuesday.</p> <p>Comair, which flies under both the British Airways and kulula.com brands in southern Africa, said that as of 10:15 a.m. local time (0815 <span class="caps">GMT</span>) a third of its services had been affected.</p> <p>It said corrective action was needed on some of its aircraft and that it expected its full fleet to be back in operation by Wednesday morning.</p> <p>At 1000 <span class="caps">GMT</span> kulula.com’s website showed that eight domestic flights had been rescheduled, one under the kulula.com brand and seven under the British Airways brand. Comair operates Boeing aircraft.</p> <p><strong><em><span class="caps">REUTERS</span></em></strong></p>
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