Nationwide hopes to fly again by Friday

Nationwide is hopeful it could have a plane in the air on Friday, the company said on Wednesday.

”That’s what we’re hoping, but it’s not guaranteed,” said Nationwide spokeswoman Charmaine Thome. ”We don’t want to get people’s hopes up.”

If possible, a plane would fly to London on Friday, she said.

Nationwide is waiting for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to complete an inspection and give it clearance to fly.

CAA spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu said as soon as the aircraft inspection is done, the aircraft will be released to fly. ”That inspection can be finished at any time. We don’t necessarily want to commit to Friday. It could happen any time.”

The CAA and Nationwide said in a joint statement that they had concluded a framework of compliance on Wednesday.

Nationwide will contract out the heavy maintenance of its aircraft fleet to the CAA-approved company Safair.

The CAA also gave special permission to Nationwide to move its aircraft — for maintenance purposes — from Cape Town and Durban to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg where Safair is based.

”These aircraft will be flown without any passengers but only with essential flight crew,” said the CAA and Nationwide.

The CAA also said it had no doubt that audit findings related to Nationwide could be satisfactorily addressed.

Last Friday, the CAA grounded Nationwide when it retracted its approval of the airline’s aircraft-maintenance organisation and suspended the certificates of airworthiness of Nationwide’s fleet of aircraft.

The grounding came just weeks after an engine fell off a Nationwide 737-200 on take-off for Johannesburg from Cape Town International Airport. The aircraft landed safely half-an-hour later.

The CAA said the grounding was not directly linked to this incident. — Sapa

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