While there was an increase in the number of civil aviation accidents last year, the number of deaths was down, according to South African Civil Aviation Authority (SaCAA) acting director Poppy Khoza.
Statistics compiled by the Midrand-based department of transport agency show 19 fatal aircraft accidents in the January – November period last year, compared to 14 for the same period the previous year.
Twenty-nine people were killed in 18 crashes compared to 36 in 2011.
Accident and crash statistics recorded by the SACAA do not include military aircraft.
Khoza appealed to the aviation community to stick to safety standards and be cautious.
“While flying is generally accepted as one of the safest modes of transport, those in aviation must work hard at all times to ensure the lives of passengers, as well as aircrew, are protected.”
The use of hand-held lasers to blind pilots on final approaches to airports is a hazard increasingly being reported from Cape Town and King Shaka international airports, as well as Lanseria, north-west of Johannesburg.
“The continuing use of lasers can have devastating consequences for the industry and anyone caught ‘lighting’ up aircraft with lasers can rest assured they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” she said.
Khoza singled out the successful implementation of Flight Plan 2012, which came into operation last month, as one of the year’s highlights.
“The requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) Document 4444 have been fully implemented in South African airspace.
“Flight plans are being transmitted and received successfully in the new format.”
CAA personnel have also worked on the phasing out of Chapter Two aircraft with local and international operators coming into the country.
These are older, noisier and less fuel efficient than more modern aircraft and their withdrawal from local airspace over a period of time will mean less noise pollution at airports.