SA skies among the safest

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa is one of the safest countries in the world in which to travel by air, says Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele.

This assurance comes after an SA Airlink aircraft failed to stop on the runaway while landing at George Airport on Monday morning. It stopped just meters before the busy N2 highway.

"We want to assure all those who make use or intend making use of air travel in South Africa that our planes and airport infrastructure are safe.

"There have been two isolated incidents of runway excursions in the past weeks, but there is nothing to panic about. South Africa has one of the best air safety records in the world," he said.

Ndebele added that runway excursions were a worldwide problem and were being aggressively addressed by both aviation authorities and air safety bodies.

The 37-seater aircraft was reportedly arriving from Cape Town in rainy weather when it aquaplaned off the end of the wet runway. It broke through the airport perimeter fence and came to a halt at a road between the airport and the N2 freeway.

A total of 33 people were evacuated from the aeroplane, five of them with minor injuries.

The Commissioner for Civil Aviation said it was concerned by the recent number of accidents or incidents involving SA Airlink and the South African Civil Aviation Authority has instituted an intensified audit programme of the maintenance, operating procedures and pilot training for the airline.

This audit is over and above the normal safety oversight programme that is conducted on all airlines operating in and into South Africa.