Civil Aviation Authority suspends Comair air operator certificate

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has grounded all Comair flights in South Africa.
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has grounded all Comair flights in South Africa.

On 12 March 2022, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) suspended the Air Operator Certificate of Comair (Pty) Ltd, with its subsidiary and British Airways.

This decision was reached following an investigation into the recent spate of safety incidents at the Operator. This is a precautionary suspension for a period of 24  hours, within which the Operator must demonstrate to the Regulator that the risk and safety management systems are effective in managing potential hazards.

Just in the past month, Comair operations experienced occurrences ranging from engine failures, engine malfunction and landing gear malfunctions, amongst others. In the interest of safety, the SACAA visited the Operator to investigate and determine if Comair is in compliance with applicable Civil Aviation Regulations (CARs). The inspection was also aimed at reviewing Comair’s quality control management system (QC) and safety management systems (SMS) to establish compliance related to reporting, analysis and follow-up on occurrences, and corrective action plans to prevent recurrence.

The outcome of the investigations yielded three (3) level 1 findings, and one (1) level 2 finding. In terms of the oversight philosophy of the Regulator, a level 1 finding which poses an immediate risk must be closed immediately and a level 2 finding must be closed within 7 days.

Failure of the Operator to produce satisfactory evidence to the Regulator, led to the decision to impose a precautionary suspension of the operations in order to give the Operator an opportunity to demonstrate that their systems are able to prevent and avert  safety hazards.

The Operator has until tomorrow morning, Sunday, 13 March 2022 to meet the requirements from the Regulator, failing which the approval will be suspended indefinitely, pending the satisfactory closing of the findings.

The mandate of the SACAA is to regulate and enforce civil aviation safety and security compliance. This is a responsibility that the Regulator takes seriously and will execute diligently and without hesitation.