ICAO conducts aviation systems audit in SA

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pretoria - The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is in South Africa for the next two weeks to audit the country’s aviation safety oversight systems. 

Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi officially welcomed the ICAO audit team at an event held this week at the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) head office in Midrand, Gauteng. 

In his opening remarks at the event, Minister Maswanganyi said 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 in which we conduct business in this sector,” Minister Maswanganyi said. 

The event was attended by the CEOs of other associated State agencies, captains of the aviation industry, including the CEOs of some of the local airlines and charter companies, as well as representatives of various aviation entities. 

Impeccable safety record 

Minister Maswanganyi applauded South Africa’s zero fatality rate in relation to scheduled commercial operations. He urged those engaged in private operations 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. 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%, [with] 72 aircraft accidents during the 2016/17 financial year.” 

The Minister attributed the decline in aircraft accidents to various safety promotion interventions at State level, coupled with initiatives by the SACAA and industry. 

He urged South Africa’s aviation agencies to continue to participate in international fora so they can learn from and impart skills among peers across the continent and the world. 

“South Africa’s participation in these fora has not only provided us with the opportunity to contribute towards the 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. While 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,” the Minister said. 

SA ready for audit

Poppy Khoza, who heads SACAA as Director of Civil Aviation, said South Africa’s preparations for the 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,” said Khoza. 

She 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 are 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,” said Khoza. 

About the ICAO 

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. 

The ICAO Member States, which include 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. – SAnews.gov.za

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