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The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has lifted the suspension of SA Express’ Air Operator Certificate (AOC). This means that the airline may, with immediate effect, resume operating their fleet of 26 aircraft.
The lifting of the suspension comes a day after the operator’s AOC privileges were temporarily withdrawn by the SACAA, after recent inspections and audits revealed deficiencies relating to the operator’s safety monitoring systems.
Following several and intensive engagements between the airline and the Regulator; SA Express provided the SACAA with a revised corrective action plan, which upon perusal and consideration was found to address the major concerns that were raised by the Regulator.
Whilst the suspension has been lifted, the SACAA will still continue to monitor and oversee the full implementation of SA Express’ corrective action plan. The SACAA will also intensify its oversight of the airline’s entire operation.
Oversight inspections and audits by regulators are done on a sample basis, and as such operators need to make sure that they have adequate safety management systems in place that can enhance and promote the levels of safety.
The SACAA wishes to reiterate that aviation safety and security is critical, and operators need to always ensure that their operations are safe and secure. Commercial gains should never supersede the safety of the crew, passengers, and the general public.
The SACAA, in line with its mandate, will continue to effectively regulate and oversee civil aviation activities in the country. South Africans can be assured that their country’s aviation safety and security standards meet, and in some instances, exceed the minimum global requirements, and thus compares favourably in terms of alignment with the best international standards and practices.
It is important to note that suspensions and withdrawals of license holders’ privileges are never an instant action or any form of reprisal by the regulator. Such a decision is usually preceded by comprehensive engagements and attempts by the regulator to highlight deficiencies and help license holders to comply with the prescribed standards and applicable regulations.
Suspensions are therefore precautionary measures aimed at avoiding catastrophic incidences. Moreover, aviation and the airline industry specifically is a 24-hours operation, and therefore there is never such a thing as an appropriate time to suspend operations.
The SACAA will continue to work with all license holders to ensure that safety practices continue to be engraved in the DNA of each entity and operation; because it is a fact that aircraft accidents, as a result of negligence or otherwise, can have a devastating effect not only on the business of operators or country, but also to the families of those that use air transport services.