Cape Town -
The South African civil aviation industry has been under the spotlight over the
last two weeks as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) conducted
an audit of the country’s competence in relation to aviation safety oversight
flying across South Africa’s skies and using one of the 13k+ aircraft on SA's aircraft registery should feel safe and secure.
message, following the release of preliminary results as SA’s performance and
improved safety measures have see it rated as the number one safest
country in Africa when it comes to aviation.
2017 report shows safety and aviation standards in SA have improved by more
than 3.43%. Before the audit, South Africa was at position 41 globally in
relation to ICAO’s Effective Implementation and at position two in Africa.
Higher than world average and 33rd position overall
22 May it was announced that South Africa’s ICAO audit results have risen from
83,83% to 86,71% - with SA’s level of Effective Implementation of ICAO’s
Critical Elements significantly higher than the world average of
This also currently puts South Africa at position 33 globally. The SACAA
says completing an audit without a significant safety concern is crucial for a
country. ICAO may identify what is
referred to as a ‘Significant Safety Concern’ for the audited country with
regard to its ability to properly oversee its air operators/airlines; airports
- which could effectively result in a decision to ban airlines and other
operators from flying into or out of a country.
SEE: Becoming a global aviation leader: Is SA on track?
programme is achieved by assessing the effectiveness of the implementation of
eight critical elements of a safety oversight system by member States as detailed
are as follows:
Primary aviation legislation;
• Specific operating regulations;
• State civil aviation system and safety
• Technical personnel qualifications and
• Certification and approval obligations;
• Technical guidance, tools and the
provision of safety critical information;
• Surveillance obligations; and
• Resolution of safety concerns.
another assessment of aviation safety standards, the European Commission list for
banned non-European Airlines who failed to meet the
safety standards was updated on Tuesday, 16 May.
The notorious European
Commission blacklist, which sees African airlines particularly getting a bad wrap, saw Mozambique and Benin carriers removed from the unsafe carriers list, while Zimbabwe’s
ailing carrier Air Zimbabwe has been added.
SEE: EU Air Safety Blacklist: Mozambique and Benin airlines cleared as Zimbabwe carrier banned
to ICAO, the EU Air Safety List aims to help maintain high levels of
safety as well as assist affected countries to improve their levels
of safety, but industry experts have called the EU blacklist “opaque” and lacking in transparency
when it comes to the measures used to define why an airline has been banned.
that an adverse ICAO finding could clip the wings or simply ground the
nearly thirteen thousand (13 000) aircraft operating in SA and also erode the R50 billion contribution that air transport makes to the South African GDP alone - transparency is paramount.
But South Africa’s improved safety performance means there isn’t any
concern for the industry being affected negatively at the moment.
According to the SACAA, the ICAO
audit was earmarked in 2016 originally and conducted from the 8th to 18th May
2017 and included audit areas
namely Legislation, Organisation, Personnel Licencing, Airworthiness, Operations,
and Accident and Incidents Investigation.
audit team arrived in the country on 5 May and was officially welcomed by the
Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi.
Decline in accidents since 2014
applauded South Africa’s "impeccable zero fatality rate in relation to scheduled
commercial operations, ie airlines, and urged those engaged in private flying
to work hard to improve safety levels".
I am comforted by the fact that statistics indicate that things have been
improving lately, particularly in the last four years," says Maswanganyi.
"The number of accidents
has been declining since the 2013/14 financial year, when 144 accidents were
reported. Four years later, the number has dropped by a massive 50%, i.e. to 72
aircraft accidents during the 2016/17 financial year.”
The Minister credited the decline in aircraft
accidents to various safety promotion interventions at a “State level, coupled
with initiatives by the SACAA, and industry”.
He urged South Africa’s aviation agencies to
continue to participate in international forums in order to learn from and
impart skills among peers across the continent and the world.
According to Poppy Khoza, who heads the SACAA as Director of Civil Aviation (CEO), the
SACAA’s recent accolades in relation to its performance as a sign that the
Regulator and the country are capable of maintaining an adequate safety
view, any independent acknowledgement of good governance and exceptional
performance by the Civil Aviation Authority is welcome because it automatically
gives assurance to those that use air transport that civil aviation safety and
security oversight is indeed managed properly.
be a Regulator that struggles with compliance with local and international
requirements. Moreover, we cannot expect licence-holders to be compliant when
we are not.”
The ICAO audit team did not raise any
Significant Safety Concern against South Africa. On the contrary, the auditors
were said to be full of praises for country's handling of civil aviation matters,
according to the department of Transport.
100% performance for Legislation, Organisation and aviation medicine
results also show that South Africa’s sterling performance resulted in 100%
performance in two key audit areas of Legislation and Organisation as well 100%
in the sub-field of aviation medicine,” says Khoza.
The ICAO audit team pointed out several areas,
such as the Airworthiness, Legislation, and Accident Investigations, as South
Africa’s best practice and intend sharing these with the rest of the world.
says it expects to receive the final audit report within the next 45 days, whereby
it will carefully study the outcomes and put “emphasis on areas that may
require improvement, and continue to excel in areas where we came out the best”.
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