Crunch time for city airport

The SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has given the Msunduzi Municipality until the end of the month to ensure that the airport complies with aviation regulations.

But the city said it had been working round the clock to address issues and meet SACAA’s requirements.

SACAA spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba said the airport had until Septermber 30 to submit operating manuals to establish whether operations at the airport were in compliance with aviation guidelines.

The Witness has meanwhile managed to gain access to the city’s own 2015 internal audit report, which found the airport had been operating in contravention of aviation guidelines.

The city has said that many of the issues highlighted in the report had been addressed.

The report warned the city that non-compliance might result in injuries or loss of life and that the airport could end up losing its licence.

The report found that the SACAA had not approved the airport’s operations manuals as required by law.

The city admitted the manual was yet to be approved by SACAA.

The airport’s safety management systems manual had also not been approved by SACAA.

“Procedures to be followed during an emergency situation may not be adequately indicated on the manual and in cases of emergency evacuations, people may not be able to follow correct emergency procedures, resulting in injuries or loss of life,” warned the report.

The city failed to act on concerns raised by SACAA in 2012/13 about emergency gates, which were not clearly marked.

“In cases of fire and other emergency type situations, the flow of passengers and fire and rescue services could be compromised, resulting in injuries or loss of life.”

The report had also found that eight runway side lights, three greenlight threshold lights, three runway end lights, approaching five runway lights and a rotating beacon light were either not working or not installed.

“Airport lights [were] not maintained as required.

“The functioning/operation of the airport may be affected during bad weather conditions and night, this could endanger lives of passengers and cause damage to aircraft.”

The report highlighted the following matters:

Firefighters not adequately trained as required by the civil aviation technical standards;

The airport may not be able to efficiently deal with the cases of emergency and disaster because the airport building infrastructure is not adequate to provide for an emergency operations centre;

There was no formal lease agreement between the airport’s tenants and the municipality.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the matter around airport manuals was being attended to.

“The airport management and SACAA have been working closely in this regard to ensure that the manuals are in accordance with the required standard and format as required by SACAA.

“With regard to compliance, the airport team is working diligently to ensure the airport meets the requirements as stipulated by the Civil Aviation Authority.

“The various departments within the airport namely: air traffic control, security, airline operations, fire and rescue and general aviation, all work hand-in-hand to ensure the maintenance of safety levels and assist each other in any way possible.

“The airport is operating within the regulations as stipulated by SACAA,” she said.

Mafumbatha said that the airport fire and rescue department had been working “copiously and relentlessly” to ensure and maintain compliance in accordance with Civil Aviation Regulations.

“All relevant training has been conducted for the airport fire and rescue staff, both practical and classroom training.”

She said broken lights at the airport had been replaced.

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