PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - CemAir’s flights remain grounded despite efforts to have the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s decision on the matter overturned in the Johannesburg High Court this week.
The SACAA announced on Friday 11 January that it had suspended the airline’s Air Operator Certificates (AOC) following concerns over the “systemic failure of the airline’s maintenance controls”.
“In a nutshell, the most recent annual renewal audit revealed CemAir’s inability to prove the continued airworthiness of its fleet,” SACAA spokesman Kabelo Ledwaba said earlier.
This comes after the SACAA announced, just before the festive season, that CemAir – which has regular flights between Plettenberg Bay and other city centres – was no longer able to operate as an airline or air operator or fly any of its 21 aircraft. This was due to a decision by the authority to suspend two of Cemair’s AOCs. One of the reasons was that audit findings showed that CemAir had been operating some aircraft outside of permissible loading limits, including weight and balance.
This decision was however challenged by CemAir through an urgent court application. The application was successful and the airline was allowed to continue operations.
The latest suspension was however implemented on 11 January. CemAir subsequently challenged the authority’s decision, but the Johannesburg High Court dismissed the matter with costs on Thursday.
“The court’s decision paves the way for the SACAA audit team to demand the return of the Certificate of Airworthiness for the grounded aircraft as well as to proceed with their intention to recommend to the director of the SACAA that that CemAir’s AOCs be revoked,” Ledwaba said in a statement.
Ledwaba added that the SACAA did not view the court’s decision as a victory for the regulator. “It serves more as a confirmation that the safety of the people will always take precedence when decisions of aviation safety and security are made. It is hoped that it also serves as a reminder to the aviation community that we all have a duty to prioritise the lives of those who put their safety in our hands.”
Ledwaba added that the SACAA was willing, able and readily available to assist CemAir to comply with the requisite civil aviation regulatory prescripts.
CemAir has not yet responded to the court’s findings.
Read more in Thursday's Knysna-Plett Herald and online.
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