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.
Rolls-Royce Set To Power Vertical Aerospace’s All-Electric Aircraft
Vertical Aerospace by Rolls-Royce (Flickr)
Rolls-Royce’s ground-breaking technology is set to power Vertical Aerospace’s flagship Urban Air Mobility (UAM) aircraft. A Rolls-Royce electrical power system will be integrated into the piloted all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle, which will carry up to four passengers for 120 miles at cruise speeds of over 200mph and is on course to certify in 2024.
Vertical Aerospace is a key collaboration for Rolls-Royce Electrical as it marks our first commercial deal in the UAM market and builds on previous agreements to work with partners on demonstrator programmes. Rolls-Royce will design the system architecture of the whole electrical propulsion system, the electric power system that includes our latest 100kW-class lift and push electrical propulsion units, the power distribution and the monitoring system that will support operations.
Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Vertical Aerospace for the electrical technology that will power their pioneering eVTOL aircraft. This exciting opportunity demonstrates our ambitions to be a leading supplier of sustainable complete power systems for the new Urban Air Mobility market which has the potential to transform the way that people and freight move from city to city.”
Michael Cervenka, CEO – Vertical Aerospace said: “We are excited to collaborate with Rolls-Royce, bringing onboard a hugely experienced team with deep expertise and cutting-edge electrical technologies to power our pioneering eVTOL aircraft. This collaboration builds on our existing partnerships and Vertical is well-positioned to develop the world’s leading eVTOL aircraft, certified to the highest CAA and EASA safety standards being set globally.”
Around 150 Rolls-Royce engineers based in countries including Hungary, Germany, US and the UK will work with the Vertical Aerospace team on developing the aircraft which is aiming to be one of the world’s first certified eVTOLs. Vertical Aerospace, based in Bristol, has already flown multiple full-scale eVTOL prototypes and the build of VA-X4 will begin shortly with assembly taking place in the UK and the first flight happening this year.
Vertical Aerospace by Rolls-Royce (Flickr)
Electrification of flight is an important part of Rolls-Royce’s sustainability strategy and supports our aim to contribute to a net zero carbon future by 2050. Rolls-Royce Electrical is a specialist team whose focus is to develop sustainable, efficient and quieter technology for aviation, marine, land and industrial applications.
Rolls-Royce also recently announced a partnership with Tecnam and major worldwide aviation players for the development of the P-Volt: an all-electric, twin electric motor, short and medium range passenger aircraft, designed for maximum versatility and safety, powered by renewable energy. In our traditional aviation segments technology continues to be developed for more-electric aircraft solutions- with integrated electrical starter generators, auxiliary power units and more intelligent management of the electrical systems on board.
Lufthansa and SWISS partner Airlink to offer convenient travel connections in Southern Africa
Lufthansa and SWISS Aircraft (Source: Lufthansa Group website)
Lufthansa and SWISS are partnering with Airlink, to offer customers access to over 25 domestic destinations in South Africa, including Bloemfontein, George, Upington, Skukuza, Nelspruit, Hoedspruit and Port Elizabeth – as well as over 20 regional destinations in Southern Africa, such as Gaborone, Kasane, Vilanculos, Maun, Victoria Falls, Maputo, Windhoek, Harare, Lusaka, Ndola, Bulawayo and many more.
The interline agreement which came into effect in January 2021, allows customers the convenience of purchasing a single ticket to or from a multitude of destinations in Southern Africa, via Airlink’s gateways in Johannesburg and Cape Town, therefore offering a truly seamless travel experience across both airlines.
“The Lufthansa Group is pleased to offer our customers even more travel options and convenience through our partnership with Airlink. We value Airlink as an important and reliable partner in the restart of our South African operations, and look forward to exploring further opportunities to widen the scope of our joint collaboration. This
partnership represents another milestone in further enhancing our network, and expressing the Lufthansa Group’s commitment to South Africa,” says Dr. André Schulz, General Manager Sales Southern and East Africa, Lufthansa Group.
Airlink CEO, Mr. Rodger Foster added: “We are proud and excited about our commercial interline agreement with Lufthansa and SWISS. We have a deep respect for these airlines, their values and global reach. We are confident that the partnership will provide our respective customers with a wider choice of travel options through the convenient interconnectivity of our respective flights at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport.
Jointly issued by Airlink and Lufthansa Group
Qatar Airways Expands Africa Network with Increase in Flight Frequencies
Qatar Airways Aircraft (Source: YouTube)
Cape Town, Casablanca and Tunis will increase to five weekly flights, while Johannesburg will increase to 18 weekly flights, offering passengers more flexible and reliable travel options
Airline’s young mixed fleet of sustainable aircraft has enabled it to continue flying throughout the pandemic and rebuild its global network to more than 800 weekly flights to over 120 destinations via the Best Airport in the Middle East
Qatar Airways continues to be the leading global carrier connecting Africa, operating one of the largest and most reliable networks in the region. Having become the largest international carrier during the early stages of the pandemic, the airline has applied its unrivalled knowledge of global passenger flows and booking trends to rebuild its Africa network to 23 destinations and more than 100 weekly flights.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are proud to be the leading international carrier connecting Africa with Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., offering more flexible travel options and a global network of flights that passengers, trade and business partners can rely on. Having launched three new destinations in Africa with Abuja, Accra and Luanda joining our network in 2020, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to the region by adding new routes and steadily increasing frequencies across the continent. With the resumption of Alexandria and Cairo, we will operate over 100 weekly flights to and from Africa with connections via the Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport, to our global network of over 120 destinations. As global travel recovers in 2021, we look forward to further expanding our network and offering more connections to and from Africa.”
In line with the airline’s steady rebuild of its Africa network, Qatar Airways plans to increase frequencies to the following destinations:
- Alexandria (two weekly flights resumed 25 January)
- Cairo (up to 16 weekly flights resumed 18 January)
- Cape Town (increasing to five weekly flights from 1 February)
- Casablanca (increased to five weekly flights from 21 January)
- Durban (increasing to three weekly flights from 14 February)
- Johannesburg (increasing to 18 weekly flights from 26 January)
- Maputo (increasing to three weekly flights from 14 February)
- Tunis (increased to five weekly flights from 24 January)
The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 120 destinations with plans to increase to over 130 by the end of March 2021.
Qatar Airways has become the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. This follows HIA’s recent success as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These recognitions provides assurance to passengers across the world that airline health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented onboard and in HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety.
Passengers can book flights with peace of mind, knowing that Qatar Airways offers unlimited date changes and fee-free refunds for all tickets issued before 30 April 2021, for travel completed by 31 December 2021. The carrier’s industry-leading flexible booking policy also provides the permanent feature of exchanging tickets for a travel voucher with 10% additional value for all customers booking travel via qatarairways.com. For full terms and conditions visit qatarairways.com/Flexibility.
A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best Business Class’, and ‘Best Business Class Seat’, in recognition of its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. The Qsuite seat layout is a 1-2-1 configuration, providing passengers with the most spacious, fully private, comfortable and social distanced Business Class product in the sky. Qsuite is available on flights to more than 45 destinations including Kuala Lumpur, London, Melbourne and New York. It is the only airline to have been awarded the coveted ‘Skytrax Airline of the Year’ title, which is recognised as the pinnacle of excellence in the airline industry, five times.
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