23 and 24 October 2013
The South African Civil Aviation (SACAA) today hosts the 7th National Annual Aviation Safety Seminar in Benoni. This two-day seminar, attended by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Mrs Sindisiwe Chikunga, a representative of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), various dignitaries and representatives of the aviation industry, has the theme ‘creating a safety-conscious aviation environment’.
This event coincides with the October Transport month, and the celebration of the SACAA’s 15th years of existence. It takes place while the collective endeavour, the Safety Campaign, is continuing to spread the word on accidents and their prevention, thereby directly contributing towards a safety-conscious environment.
The National Safety Seminar was introduced more than seven years ago with the aim of bringing together aviation decision-makers, safety and quality managers, aviation personnel and aviation structures and associations under one roof to discuss matters of aviation safety. The focus at these seminars is the reduction of the number of aircraft accidents, thereby increasing the safety of all passengers and crew.
The highlights of this year’s seminar includes speakers from the SACAA, the Department of Transport, Recreational Aviation Administration, Air Traffic and Navigation Services, Aeroclub, South African Airways, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, SA Weather Services, Airports Company of South Africa, SA Express and 43 Air School.
In her keynote address, Deputy Minister Chikunga emphasised that there is no substitute for effective safety oversight by civil aviation authorities. She said ‘South Africa has improved on its excellent safety and security record in the international arena. The SACAA underwent an ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission from 24 to 30 July 2013. The preliminary outcome of the assessment indicates that they expect a very successful outcome when the final report is delivered at the end of October.’ She congratulated everyone in the field of aviation who played a role in this excellent result.
The Deputy Minister mentioned the importance of maintaining an accident-free record in large commercial operations ‘The nature of the aviation industry has zero tolerance for errors,’ she said.
She posed the question, ‘Since South Africa has registered notable pockets of excellence as far as aviation safety and infrastructure is concerned, what have we done or are doing to ensure that we share and influence the aviation safety agenda on the continent?’ . .
Captain Andreas Meyer from ICAO talked about the Global Air Navigation Plan which deals with runway safety, controlled flight into terrain and loss of control in flight as priorities. He further called upon the industry to recognise the elements of responsibility and accountability in the course of their activities.
‘As part of our commitment to aircraft accident prevention, the SACAA has been working on the Cross- Functional Accident Reduction Plan (CFARP). This initiative, which the Minister of Transport tabled at parliament as part of a Strategy and Annual Performance Plan, is intended to reduce aircraft accidents in relation to past statistics, as we strive for a zero accident rate in the General Aviation sector, similar to that of the large commercial aircraft’, said Ms Poppy Khoza, Acting Director of the SACAA.’
Ms Khoza mentioned that the long-term focus of this Plan includes structural challenges such as the lack of minimum requirement for pilot training; pilot hours not reconciled to aircraft hours; training schools that are profit-driven and using student tutors; an unlimited number of student pilot examination attempts; and capturing of General Aviation activities for accident measurement.
‘We enjoy an impeccable accident rate in large commercial aircraft; we would like to translate that into General Aviation,’ she said.
Regarding accident statistics over the past financial year, the presenter from the SACAA Accident and Incident Investigation Division said that accident causes are the same year-on-year, either due to aviators not learning from the mistakes of others or being complacent. He said that the majority of accidents are as a result of known factors and these factors include poor decision-making, lack of, or inadequate pre-flight checks, haste to get to a destination, and fuel mismanagement.
The SACAA is mandated to ensure aviation safety and security. This is done in line with international standards and recommended practices as determined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This is a huge obligation, one which cannot be fulfilled without the support of the aviation industry. Despite the fact that regulations and procedures are continually being improved, legislation alone cannot address safety in the industry.
This fact was reiterated when the speaker from the Accident and Incident Investigation Division of the SACAA said ‘aviation safety will never be attained if you and I do not change our behaviour, especially our attitudes.’
Some of the speakers at today’s event include Mr Cobus Toerien from South African Airways, Ms Gabo Khambule from the South African Weather Service, Mr Neil de Lange from Recreation Aviation Administration South Africa and Mr Kevin Storie from Aeroclub.
On the second day of the Safety Seminar, there will be a first-ever Industry Day including discussions by representatives from various airlines and Mr Gerhard Venter on the newly released Weather Book South Africa.