Working on Fire grounded

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The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has suspended the Part 127 (Helicopter) and Part 135 (Air Transport Operations: Small Aircraft) Air Operating Certificates (AOC) of Working on Fire, trading as FFA Aviation, for failure to comply with applicable legislative requirements.

Following a recent spate of incidents and accidents involving aircraft operated by FFA Aviation, SACAA intensified its oversight and audit obligations to determine whether aviation safety was being compromised in any way by this operator and maintenance organisation. The SACAA’s intensified audits were conducted parallel to the ongoing accident investigations, which are being conducted by the Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Division under the banner of the Department of Transport.

As the regulator of civil aviation safety and security the SACAA conducts annual safety audits on, among others, all AOC holders. Similarly to all audit processes, a sample of the operations is audited and where there is a need, ad-hoc or follow-up inspections are also conducted to ensure all areas of concern are addressed appropriately.

Recent surveillance on FFA Aviation yielded various findings, which according to the SACAA, were serious in nature. Notwithstanding, in terms of the regulations, the operator is entitled to appeal the suspension decision by applying to the Director of Civil Aviation. However, in the meantime, the decision remains enforceable.

In line with the applicable civil aviation regulations, an AOC holder has a duty to ensure it operates safely and its aircraft are properly maintained in line with the manufacturer’s manual and applicable regulatory prescripts.



The mandate of the SACAA is to regulate civil aviation safety and security and to promote industry development. The Authority is committed to meeting its obligations and keeping South Africans and those that use its airspace safe. Unsafe operations undermine the country’s highly regarded civil aviation safety and security standards. The basic principles of airmanship should always be upheld, and aviation safety and security must always be prioritised ahead of gains, commercial or otherwise, SACAA’s Phindiwe Gwebu said.