Aviation authority refutes downgrading allegations

Claims that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is facing possible downgrading by the United States Federal Aviation Association (FAA) are not true, a company spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“These are simply false allegations that may only seek to damage the image of the CAA and that of the country,” said spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu in a statement.

Following an FAA audit last year, the CAA was informed in January that it was compliant with all international aviation standards.

“We maintained our category-one status,” she said.

She said a follow-up visit that took place at the end of July was to monitor progress on training, among other things.

This comes after a story published in Beeld on Tuesday. The report quoted Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus as saying that skills shortages at South African Airways Technical, blamed on the government’s affirmative action policy, were posing a danger to passengers.

He said technical expertise was being lost and aircraft maintenance standards were being lowered.

He further added that the FAA and the International Civil Aviation Authority had recommended that CAA be downgraded from a category one to two status.

Gwebu said: “As a leading aviation nation on the sub-continent, the FAA was keen to see whether we had achieved our stated goal of not only being compliant with international standards, but rather far exceeding the minimum requirements.
They left satisfied that we had now indeed achieved our goal.”

The company said shortages in technical skills within the aviation industry were a global phenomenon. It was doing everything in its power to ensure that passenger safety was not compromised as a result of skills shortages.

It said about 80 new technical appointments had been made by July 2008.—Sapa

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