Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano says now is not the time for the aviation industry to cutback on skilled staff. In fact, it is time to invest.
“Air power is not just what you see here today,” Gagiano said at an air capability demonstration last week that saw South African Air Force fighters strafe and bomb targets and attack helicopters rocket and cannonade the Roodewal bombing range.
“Air power also goes as far back as industry,” he said.
“We are all feeling the pressure of the loss of skilled personnel that we lose to other parastatals such as Sasol and Eskom and my biggest fear is that in this period of economic problems the focus is on how ‘I can decrease my HR [human resources] component` and not and not to say ‘I need to train new entrants to this sector`.
“The day the recovery comes people will say “Hau! What now?” Those who want people will have to steal them from others.
“The Air Force and some other state agencies are collaborating, we have common ground and we have the will to start training especially technicians to ensure we have sufficient…”
Gagiano also welcomed Lockheed Martin granting Denel Aviation accreditation as a local maintenance centre for the C130.
Asked whether he placed value on it he replied: “Oh, yes, we do. If they don`t have that we need to send our aircraft somewhere else… our neighbours Botswana sent an aircraft to Malaysia before Denel was accredited. So it is very important for us to have this capability locally because local is cheaper.”
The air chief added that is “very important that we maintain a strong defence industry. So, the DoD must provide opportunities for local defence industry to grow.”
He further added the accreditation would allow for skills retention. “We`ve had a huge outflow of technicians as you know. We`re using them as a back up for us and ensuring we can use their skilled people to assist us, to train and in this world to supervise work.”
“You cannot have unskilled unsupervised people working on aircraft, it`s dangerous.”