The South African civil aviation industry will be under the spotlight in the next two weeks as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) conducts an audit of the country’s competence in relation to aviation safety oversight systems.
ICAO is a United Nations specialised agency tasked with managing civil aviation matters across the world in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable, and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector.
ICAO Member States, which includes South Africa, are expected to conform with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices in order to ensure that their local civil aviation operations and regulations conform to global norms, which in turn enables the global aviation network to operate safely and reliably.
The organisation regularly performs mandatory audits of member states’ safety oversight systems through its Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP). Its USOAP audits focus on a state’s capability in providing safety oversight by assessing whether the state has effectively and consistently implemented the critical elements of a safety oversight system, which enable the state to ensure the implementation of ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices and associated procedures and guidance material.
The audit team arrived in the country over the weekend and was officially welcomed by the minister of transport, Joe Maswanganyi at an event which was also attended by CEOs of other associated state agencies as well as captains of the aviation industry that included CEOs of some of the local airlines and charter companies, and representatives of various aviation entities.
SA’s top aviation infratructure
In his opening remarks, Maswanganyi pointed out that even though South Africa is regarded as a developing country, its aviation infrastructure matches that of most of the developed countries. “This is not only in reference to aviation technology but also in the way we conduct business in this sector.”
Maswanganyi applauded South Africa’s impeccable zero fatality rate in relation to scheduled commercial operations, i.e. airlines, and urged those engaged in private flying to work hard to improve safety levels. “Regardless, I am comforted by the fact that statistics indicate that things have been improving lately, particularly in the last four years. 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”.
Audit is an opportunity
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. “South Africa’s participation in these forums has not only provided us with the opportunity to contribute towards relevant discourse on vital aspects of aviation, but it also places our representatives at the cutting-edge of civil aviation development. It is this desire to amass knowledge that makes us excited to be part of this ICAO audit. Whilst others may regard audits like these as unpleasant and petrifying exercises, we view this engagement as an opportunity to pause and reflect objectively on our aviation safety and security endeavours.”
He urged the South African audit task team, which comprise different role players to cooperate with the auditors and represent the country in the best form they can. “You are representing the hopes of over 55 million South Africans and 33,000 aviation license-holders.”
According to Poppy Khoza, who heads the SACAA as director of civil aviation (CEO), South Africa’s preparations for this audit started as far back as 2013 when South Africa was subjected to a similar audit. “A lot of work has been done behind the scenes, and as such, we hope not to attract any adverse findings following this audit.”
Capable of maintaining adequate safety oversight system
Khoza cited 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 oversight system. “In our 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. Our performance as the Regulator is intertwined with the country’s levels of aviation safety and security, and it mirrors how we discharge our mandate. It is thus important that we keep excelling in all aspects of our business. We cannot 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.”
Khoza explained that whilst it is impossible to predict the outcome of the ICAO audit, her wish for the country is to avoid any pronouncement of an ICAO significant safety concern, which in simper auditing terms is a qualified opinion. “We will be delighted, if we do not attract any adverse findings, and most importantly if we could help improve on South Africa’s current rating, which is currently at 84% and therefore still significantly higher than the world average of 60%,” Khoza concluded.
Congo Airways Orders Two Embraer E195-E2 Jets
Congo Airways Embraer Aircraft (Source: Embraer)
Just six months after their first E2 order, Congo Airways has placed a firm order for two E195-E2 jets. This is in addition to their existing two aircraft order for the smaller E190-E2. The four aircraft deal has a total value of USD 272 million at current list prices. This new firm order will be included in Embraer’s 2020 fourth quarter backlog.
Desire Bantu, CEO of Congo Airways said, “We see an opportunity in our market and the crisis we are all facing for Congo Airways to emerge stronger – which is why we are not waiting to place this further order. These new jets will allow us to extend our passenger and cargo operations regionally to high demand destinations such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Abidjan.
As we prepare for future success, we will have the flexibility, and the right sized, most efficient aircraft, to serve our customers as the market returns.”
“Africa has for too long been thought of as a market of mostly low frequencies and long thin routes. As airlines start ramp up their operations, the E2 family of aircraft is perfectly positioned to right size routes previously operated by narrowbodies, while keeping frequencies and adjusting capacity to new levels,” said Cesar Pereira, vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Embraer Commercial Aviation. “Congo Airways will benefit from the flexibility provided by the common cockpit on the E2 jet family meaning their flight crews can transition seamlessly between variants.”
The E195-E2 will be configured in a dual class 120 seat layout, 12 in business, 108 in economy. An additional 25% capacity when compared to the 96-seat configuration chosen by Congo Airways for their E190-E2s. The E2 deliveries are expected to begin in 2022 with Embraer and Congo Airways continuing to review the potential to anticipate the beginning of the deliveries. There are currently 206 Embraer aircraft operating in Africa with 56 airlines in 29 countries.
Ozow partners FlySafair to improve air travel access for millions of South Africans
Thomas Pays, Co-Founder and CEO of Ozow
A new partnership between digital payments company Ozow and leading local airline FlySafair is making it easier than ever for South Africans to purchase flight tickets.
According to Ozow co-founder and CEO Thomas Pays, the vast majority of South Africans have no credit cards and require alternative means of purchasing goods and services online. “There are more than 49 million bank accounts but only eight million active credit cards in South Africa. This poses the threat of locking millions out of digital and financial services. As an impact-driven and market-led company, Ozow is at the forefront of developing products, services and partnerships that enable greater digital and financial inclusion for all consumers and businesses. The partnership with South Africa’s most innovative and consumer-friendly airline is one more step toward this goal.”
Kirby Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer at FlySafair, says: “We’ve always respected the need to offer customers without credit cards various options to make payments both online and offline. We’re pleased to have partnered with Ozow who offer a safe, reliable and easy-to-use option for our customers.”
While airlines have been grounded and air travel limited since lockdown was first implemented in March 2020, South Africans generally love to fly. In 2017 alone, the Airports Company of South Africa tracked more than 40 million passengers traveling through the country’s nine largest airports.
Pays adds that the two companies share a commitment to ensure their services are accessible to all South Africans. “As a business, we work to break down barriers that keep more consumers from enjoying the benefits of digital payments. Cash remains the most expensive and least secure method of payment, but most South Africans still rely on cash payments for most of their purchases. By partnering with likeminded, consumer-led businesses such as FlySafair, we can accelerate the decashing of the South African economy and bring digital and financial empowerment to all South Africans.”
iFly Aviation Takes Young Aviators And STEM Program To Uganda
Kampala, Uganda: iFly is an aviation enterprise which is dedicated to bridging the gap between industry and community through inclusive youth empowerment programs. Our core focus is social innovation in Aviation, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and driving our initiatives alongside key stakeholders in order to facilitate and enable the next generation.
Our purpose is to elevate learners by empowering them, motivating and giving insight into opportunities that exist within the aviation industry and educating them along the way. As part of our efforts to drive our initiatives across Africa as to create a pan African movement, we have recently launched our programs in Uganda, this being the second country after South Africa.
We hosted our first event at Nakasero secondary school in Uganda, to the delight of over 200 students. They were exposed to motivational talks including insights into aviation and its various opportunities. We had a flight simulator session where the students got exposed to a computer based flight simulator in order to see and learn first hand what happens in the cockpit during flight.
The event was also complimented by a first of its kind engine building project, an initiative of the Rolls Royce STEM program. Through this workshop, students got to build a 3D model Trent engine, the likes of which powers the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350, 2 of the most popular wide body airliners in the world.
Our goal a to have such programs running across the continent and we would Like to invite any like minded and passionate people across Africa to join us as ambassadors and adopt iFly STEM under our blue print in their respective countries. We sincerely appreciate our ambassadors in Uganda for pulling off a successful first event. David Ssenkungu, Derrick Talemwa, Peter Mwesigwa and Hosea Datari.
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