SACAA set to keep an eye on SA Airlink fleet following emergency landing


The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) is set to keep a close eye on the SA Airlink fleet following an emergency landing involving one of the airline’s aircraft at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA).

The emergency landing involved the airline’s BAE Avro 146-RJ85, which was carrying 73 passengers and 4 crew members. According to the SACAA the aircraft took off from OR Tambo at approximately 19:10 on Thursday and was destined to land at Pietermaritzburg Airport at 19:40. However, soon after takeoff the piloting crew noticed that the aircraft’s nose gear was malfunctioning. The crew then decided to return to ORTIA for an emergency landing. The crew managed to land the aircraft safely and no one was injured.

In a statement, the SACAA indicated that they received a call from the operator whilst the aircraft was still in the air and immediately dispatched an investigator who arrived at the scene moments after the aircraft managed to land. The investigation began there and then and was intensified this morning with more personnel allocated to the incident. The aircraft has since been taken to a nearby hangar.
“Whilst only a final report can declare with certainty the cause of this particular incident and recommendations that need to be considered, information available at this stage suggests that human factor could have contributed to this incident. In the meantime, we have assembled a team of Inspectors who will work parallel to Investigators to conduct ramp inspections in order to ensure that an occurrence such as this and other unsafe scenarios or potential hazards do not happen,” said acting Director of Civil Aviation, Zakhele Thwala.
“We are thus hoping that the preliminary report together with the inspections report will be able to guide us to what are the next steps that need to be taken in this regard. In the meantime, we regret any inconvenience the ramp inspections may cause to the travelling public. We would also like to commend the crew for handling this incident as professionally and safely as they did. Further tribute should go to ACSA, Air Traffic Control personnel, Emergency Services and all other teams that have been involved in this emergency, which had undoubtedly tested them to the limit,” Thwala said.

Airlink has had technical problems before – in 2009 the SACAA suspended the airworthiness certificates for 14 of its aircraft.
“We have worked very hard at the Airlink to restore the confidence. We have also improved our reliability and our customer service to re-establish Airlink’s reputation as a safe and reliable airline,” South African Airlink MD Roger Foster told Eyewitness News on Friday.

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has commended the captain and crew of the aircraft, as well as emergency services, for their handling of the emergency landing.