Friday, May 3, 2013

■ SOUTH AFRICA: SACAA threatens action against operator of chartered Jet Airways A330 that landed at military airbase.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) is considering taking action against "the operator" of a Jet Airways (9W) Airbus A330, recently chartered by South African businessman, Atul Gupta on the occasion of a family wedding, for violation of the country's Civil Aviation Regulations. The furore reportedly comes after the civilian Airbus was spotted at Pretoria's Watekloof Air Force Base, a military installation, but which has subsequently been transferred to OR Tambo International on the orders of the Ministry of Defence.

According to the SACAA, the A330, which was carrying passengers from India to South Africa and is now repositioned at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport, lacks a valid Foreign Operator Permit (FOP). Following its relocation to OR Tambo International, the aircraft is now in civilian airspace and will be subjected to the provisions of the civil aviation Authority legislation and International Air Services Act. 
The A330 in Johannesburg (madhayman)
In cases where a foreign-operated aircraft carrying civilians will land at a military aerodrome, Part 139.01.2 of the Civil Aviation Regulations requires that an operator of such an aircraft submit an application in writing to the Director (Director of Civil Aviation of the SACAA) requesting permission for that aircraft to land at a military aerodrome. However this is subject to the Minister of Defence granting permission for such landing before the application is forwarded to the SACAA. The SACAA can confirm that no application was received by the Office of the Director in this regard. 

The SACAA, upon learning about the repositioning of this aircraft landing at OR Tambo International Airport, sent out a team of inspectors to conduct a ramp inspection. The team confirmed that the aircraft did not have a Foreign Operator Permit as is a requirement for a civilian operation. They also found that the aircraft had conformed to all other safety related requirements such as a valid Certificate of Airworthiness, and its maintenance records were up to date. The South African Civil Aviation Authority’s mandate is to regulate civil aviation safety and security and we accomplish this by enforcing applicable civil aviation regulations and recommended standards and practices. 
SACAA says the extent of the enforcement action will be decided once all the facts are considered. 

Well-connected Atul Gupta is the chairman of family-owned TNA media, which produces the South Africa's New Age newspaper. Gupta is quoted as saying he did not understand why there was a concern about the landing of an aircraft chartered by the family at Waterkloof on Tuesday, claiming that Waterkloof had to be used as Lanseria International Airport, northwest of Johannesburg, "could not accommodate an aircraft of that size."
"I don't know what they want ... The airplane had permission. No airplane in the world can land without permission."
Source [Mail & Guardian]

Amid denials from one government department after another, it has yet to be established who gave permission for the jet to land at the air force base with each department now conducting its own investigation into the matter. South Africa Chief of State Protocol, Bruce Koloane, has been suspended as of Thursday.