Aircraft accidents – and deaths – on the decline in South Africa


Data released this week by the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) shows a 17% decline in aircraft accidents for the financial year that ended on March 31.

In the 2014/14 financial year 144 aircraft accidents were reported and this dropped to 120 in the last financial year. The number of fatal accidents was also down from 27 to 16 with the number of deaths also decreasing from 41 to 26 – a 37% reduction according to SACAA.
“Scheduled commercial passenger operations retained a zero fatal accident rate record. As much as the statistics are encouraging, SACAA still maintains one fatality is one just too many. We certainly believe there is still room for improvement particularly in relation to recreational and general aviation activities. We urge the general aviation and recreational sector to emulate the safety culture that has year-after-year ensured commercial operations maintain an admirable safety record,” said Director of Civil Aviation Poppy Khoza.

She told an aviation safety seminar in Midrand the reduction in aviation accidents statistics was the result of numerous interventions, key being safety awareness campaigns run by SACAA and other aviation organisations.
“In terms of the safety campaigns, we have a multi-entity team travelling to provinces to meet and share safety tips with the general aviation fraternity. We can also credit the Cross-Functional Accident Reduction Plan, another initiative launched about two years ago with the aim of reducing accidents in the general aviation sector,” she said.

The safety awareness campaigns provide aviators with crucial information and scenarios to enable them to make appropriate decisions before and during flight, especially in adverse weather. The safety presentations include video presentations as well as discussions on the need for general aviation pilots to be more vigilant and professional than pilots operating in the commercial sector, due to the demands of the single pilot operations found in general aviation she told the 150-strong audience at the seminar.

On RPAS (remote piloted aircraft systems) Khoza said: “This new technology is here to stay and as much as we are enthusiastic about integration of RPAS into civilian airspace, we are mindful of the security and safety aspects these types of aircraft bring. We have to continue with dialogue around this new technology and pinpoint challenges as well as solutions relating to remotely piloted aircraft systems”.

To date SACAA has issued approvals for 140 RPAS certification of registrations, one RPAS training organisation and 15 RPAS pilot licenses.