Photo: Flickr

SA flight authorities deny ‘technical chaos’ – after three incidents reported

At the same time a number of reports into SA’s recent ‘flight incidents’ was released, aviation authorities have had to dispell some rumours.


Photo: Flickr

The aviation authorities of South Africa have had to set the record straight this week after it was alleged that some of our biggest airports were unable to guide planes in for landing due to wide-ranging technical issues.

‘Technical flight and landing issues’ explained

An Instrument Landing System (ILS) is a ground-based navigational instrument system that provides guidance to an aircraft when approaching or landing on a runway when the pilot cannot see the runway due to bad weather. It was rumoured that many of these had been deactivated at airports like OR Tambo and King Shaka – with some commentators saying this was a development to be feared.

However, the SA Civil Aviation Authority has comprehensively rejected these claims, saying that aviation activity will not ‘come to a screeching halt’ because of this. They explain that the ILS at various airports can be turned off due to a drop in traffic, or if they require maintenance and recalibration.

“There are circulating reports that inaccurately suggest aviation activities in SA will come to a screeching halt as a result of the airports instrument landing systems calibration status expiring at some airports. ILS will return to airports, but calibration will need to take place to perform adjustments for performance accuracy.”

“The ILS is just one of the few landing and take-off techniques that are used. This simply means that you can still land without an ILS, however, visibility on the runway must be determined first. Assertions that suggests that all ILS systems at all South African airports are switched-off, and not functioning, are misguided.”

SA Civil Aviation Authority

SACAA release reports into three serious incidents

The timing of this brief scare hasn’t been kind to the SA Civil Aviation Authority, either. They have recently released their reports into three serious incidents involving planes and airports within the past 13 months. The extensive investigations established the circumstances behind the following ‘flightmares’:

  • July 2019: A security guard in KwaZulu-Natal was killed when he walked into a spinning propellor at Pongola Airfield.
  • October 2019: A pilot crash-landed a light aircraft at an airfield he mistakenly arrived at in Limpopo – before a rescue helicopter got lost during its mission.
  • December 2019: An air-conditioning fault on board a Boeing 737 caused wild fluctuations in the cabin pressure and its warning systems onboard a flight from Joburg, which was carrying more than 180 passengers.