Two aircraft at Port Elizabeth Airport avoid accident at last minute

On the back of a tumultous global aviation period, two planes from local airlines have allegedly been involved in a near-miss landing at Port Elizabeth Airport.The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has confirmed it is investigating the incident which was  brought to light by FF Plus parliamentary spokesperson on transport Advocate Anton Alberts in Parliament on Friday.Alberts, who is calling for a probe into the safety of aviation in South Africa said the incident took place on 10 July in which two aircraft, one landing and another about to take-off, were allegedly given clearance at the same time in what he called “a near-fatal accident”.More than “200 passengers combined” were reportedly on board “an SA Express flight landing from Durban and the SAA flight departing from Port Elizabeth”.

Alberts said according to information which he received, “the aircraft missed each other at the last moment due to the skill and fast action of the pilots who undoubtedly prevented a tragedy”.

“The FF Plus views this incident in an extremely serious light and will insist on the highest levels that a survey is undertaken into the standards of training and the skills subjects of every air traffic controller in South Africa,” Alberts said.

In response, the SACAA said in a statement “Advocate Alberts attributes a number of false inventions to one of SACAA’s employees”.

“Whilst the SACAA official did confirm to the FF Plus that the regulator is aware of the incident; Advocate Alberts and his team took it upon themselves to fabricate so-called facts and attribute such to the SACAA official,” Phindiwe Gwebu, spokesperson for the SACAA said.

“Advocate Alberts’ utterances are grossly exaggerated, indecorous and condemned in the strongest terms possible.

“Before embarking on their tactics, Advocate Alberts and his ilk should first familiarise themselves with the admirable safety record that South Africa has in terms of airline operations. Without any final report with recommendations, any assertions regarding the incident will be speculative and an attempt to prejudge the outcome of the investigation,” said Gwebu.

The SACAA said the incident in question is not a frequent occurrence and will be investigated thoroughly.

At the beginning of 2014 an alarming spate of incidents had occurred in which 11 lives had been lost and 22 non-fatal, serious aircraft incidents and accidents had been reported –  12 occurred in January and 10 occurred in February 2014.

In response the SACAA developed the Cross-Functional Accident Reduction Plan (CFARP). It is focused on the weaknesses that cause aircraft accidents and the SACAA says it is being implemented over the next two years.

Updated figures have not yet been released.

The last major commercial airline aviation disaster recorded for South Africa happened in 1987 when South African Airways Flight 295 (flown by a Boeing 747 named Helderberg) suffered a catastrophic in-flight fire in the cargo area and crashed into the Indian Ocean east of Mauritius. All 140 passengers and 19 crew on board lost their lives.

Globally 2014 has been a significantly bad year for the Aviation industry.

Just last week 298 passengers were killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine. Airlines suspended flights to Israel’s largest airport after rocket attacks and an airliner crashed during a storm in Taiwan – yet another Aircraft has crashed in West Africa.

Mystery still surrounds the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

And while Industry analysts and safety experts say they can find no common themes, they don’t think the events indicate that flying is suddenly becoming less safe.

Less than one in 2 million flights last year ended in an accident in which the plane was damaged beyond repair, according to the International Air Transport Association. That includes accidents involving cargo and charter airlines as well as scheduled passenger flights.


– News24  — Travel


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