Plane crashes plummet


The number of plane crashes in South Africa this year has so far dropped significantly from 2008, an air safety expert said on Friday.

“There is an acceptable state of aviation safety in South Africa,” said Rennie van Zyl, SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) acting executive manager for accident investigations, at a conference in Johannesburg.

The South African Press Association reports just more than 80 air accidents had been registered by September this year, compared to about 140 by September last year.

In total, about 190 plane crashes were reported in 2008, said Van Zyl.

This year, the worst month was in May when more than 15 accidents occurred.

In terms of large aircraft – planes weighing more than 5700kg – six serious incidents were reported in 2009, compared to nine serious incidents in 2008.

Serious incidents peaked at 14 among large aircraft in 2007.

There was a range of reasons why accidents and serious incidents happened.
“We have seen some significant accidents in South Africa, such as the separation of wings. We have seen some very nasty accidents,” said Van Zyl.

Often, human error plays a role.

He cited the example of a crash that happened after the pilot shut off the engine “because of a thumping sound” he heard.
“It turned out the thumping sound was made by the seat belt,” said Van Zyl.

Nobody was injured in that crash, SAPA reported.