In May, the SACAA was audited by ICAO, as part of the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) which ensures that member states conform to stipulated standards and recommendations and do not pose a significant safety concern to civil aviation.
ICAO is the United Nation’s specialised agency responsible for aviation. It was established in 1944 by 51 states under the Chicago Convention to set standards to ensure a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable, and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector. South Africa is one of the 191 ICAO Member States.
The previous ICAO audit was carried out in 2013. This year’s audit sees South Africa’s preliminary results showing an improvement from 83.83% to 86.71% in ‘Effective Implementation of ICAO’s Critical Elements’, which is higher than the world average of 60%, and puts South Africa at position one in Africa and 33 globally. Before the audit, South Africa was at position 41 globally and position two in Africa.
According to Minister of Transport Joe Maswanganyi, “Most countries that get subjected to this new method either maintain or drop their rating levels. Yet South Africa has managed to improve on its previous rating.” However, there are only seven ICAO states out of 191 that have not passed their audits: Djibouti, Eritrea, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Nepal and Thailand.
The audit covered six areas: Legislation, Organisation, Personnel Licensing, Airworthiness, Operations, and Accident and Incidents Investigation. The ICAO 2017 preliminary audit results did not raise any significant safety concern against South Africa. Furthermore, the initial results showed 100% performance in two audit areas, namely Legislation and Organisation, as well 100% in the sub-field of Aviation Medicine.
“Completing an audit without a significant safety concern is extremely important. Based on a proclamation of a significant safety concern against a particular state, other countries or regions may take a decision to ban airlines and other operators of the country from flying over and into their airspace,” minister Maswanganyi explained.
In terms of aircraft accidents, South Africa maintained its zero fatality rate for scheduled commercial operations, and in general aviation the number of accidents has dropped by 50 percent over the past four years, from 144 accidents in the 2013/14 financial year to 72 in the 2016/17 financial year. However, the number of hours flown is not available, so the drop in accidents could be the result of a decrease in the amount of flying.