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News

SA Express warned a week before licence suspended

Parastatal SA Express was issued with a formal warning a week before its operational licence was suspended.

“We conducted the audit on the 19th and 20th of April.

“When we finished the audit‚ we briefed their representative … we then followed that up with a formal written report to the organisation on April 22‚ communicating our outcome of the audit‚” said the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s executive for aviation safety operation‚ Simon Segwabe.

“We then requested the company‚ in the very same letter … which identified the deficiencies to come with a corrective plan‚” he said.

He noted that SA Express was neither given favourable treatment nor discriminated against‚ saying it was treated in the same manner as any other airline company.

“Our letter requested them to address the deficiencies by no later than April 29 and they provided us with the corrective plan‚ which we found unacceptable and inadequate‚ hence we decided to take the decision to suspend their operational licence‚” he said.

Segwabe said the authority and SA Express had worked day and night at the weekend to ensure that the airline company met the requirements for SACAA to reinstate the airline’s operating licence on Sunday evening.

SA Express’ operator’s certificate was suspended on Friday evening for 42 hours after the state-owned airline failed to meet the authority’s systems quality assurance requirements.

“We grounded them based on the deficiencies that we had noted in their systems. Then we had subsequent engagements with them from Friday night‚ Saturday and up to Sunday.

“On Sunday they then provided us with a report‚ that we reviewed and based on that report we could then accept their quality action plan and we are satisfied that they have addressed the deficiencies that we had discovered‚” he said.

He said this meant that the SA Express planes were safe for travel purposes.

“The deficiencies were in regards to their monitoring systems.

“As a certified operator you must then monitor internally all the operational aspects of your business.

“For instance‚ are you able to record the flight deficiencies internally and maintenance issues. Are you able to correct them‚ are you able to provide evidence that you have taken action on those issues that were reported internally‚ which were the cracks we found in the system.

“It was not providing us with the comfort that (SA Express) was able to do that‚” he said.

He said the regulator was satisfied that the deficiencies were addressed and the system has been enhanced going forward.

Inati Ntshanga‚ SA Express chief executive‚ said in a statement on Sunday: “It is regrettable that discrepancies in the submission of procedural paperwork and submission processes between SA Express and SACAA did not correspond. Following extensive consultations and revised documentation as well as submission procedures‚ our operating licence has been reinstated and we will resume our normal operating schedule by 19:00 this evening. We assure the general public that this matter has been substantially addressed and will never occur again.”