Passengers expecting to fly with CemAir over the holiday
period can breathe a sigh of relief, as the airline has been granted permission
to resume services, subject to fulfilling the South African Civil Aviation
Authority (SACAA) safety requirements for its operating licence.
Travellers were left stranded for several days after the
SACAA suspended CemAir on 13 December, due to non-compliance of safety
specifications related to both its small and large aircraft. The qualifications
of the airline's flight operations manager were also called into question, with
the recent audit bringing to light issues around weight and balance of the
READ: CemAir grounded by SACAA
Despite a settlement being reached out of court, with a
temporary lifting of the SACAA suspension, the airline is subject to specific
conditions related to an acceptable corrective action plan and certain
conditions need to be met by Wednesday, 19 December.
Added to that, the SACAA will continue with its full audit
of the airline.
Key to the corrective plan is the issue of undeclared hand
luggage, says SACAA CEO Phindiwe Gwebu.
"Our technical specifications allow for 6kgs to be
deducted for every person not carrying hand luggage, however this cannot be
done for every passenger, which is currently happening," says Gwebu.
"CemAir needs to develop a procedure that also takes
into account undeclared hand luggage, as some of CemAir's aircraft do not have
onboard storage cabins."
Gwebu says the regulator would like CemAir to comply with
proper 'empty weight' regulations, saying despite changes to the aircraft since
receiving it from the manufacturer, "CemAir is altering the empty weight
themselves" and it is "not reflecting in according with its
Airlines are expected to have their aircraft weighed and
changes in weight checked in accordance with alterations by an expert in order
to have a true empty weight reflection. This needs to happen at least every
five years, says Gwebu.
"It is incorrect for the airline to misrepresent facts
and create the impression that the issue of the weight and balance, even though
very crucial, was the only key cause of the suspension. It is important to note
that matters of civil aviation safety and security are very serious and what
may seem like administrative decisions in other industries may lead to loss of
life in the aviation industry."
As part of finalising the audit, the SACAA says it will
review and consider all compliance matters including the status of post-holders
such as the Responsible Person: Flight Operations.
CemAir CEO Miles van der Molen is no stranger to
controversy, with a list of alleged fraudulent documents and fatal accidents
linked to airlines previously under his watch. This includes an incident in
1999 when a Flight Line chartered aircraft crashed after take-off from Rand
Airport in Germiston, killing 9 people on board.
AeroSpace Africa reports the inquest into the incident
"found incorrect documentation was submitted related to the amount of
weight the plane could carry, with findings showing the aircraft was overweight
by an estimated 360kg".
News24 tried to contact Van der Molen directly, as well as
the airline call centre, but has yet to receive a response.
According to the aviation safety regulator CemAir needs to
address the following, as part of the temporary lifting of the suspension:
a) To develop a procedure for monitoring and accounting for
undeclared hand luggage and submit it to the SACAA for approval on 19 December
b) To immediately comply with the weight and balance
c) Furthermore, the airline has been ordered to stop
deducting kilogram allowances from passengers until a weight plan is approved
by the SACAA.