Kulula and British Airways flights suspended indefinitely

South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has suspended Comair’s Air Operator Certificate privileges indefinitely, as the regulator still needs to review evidence that it is safe for the airline to resume flights.

Comair operates Kulula and British Airways in South Africa. Its licence is suspended until it addresses the SACAA’s findings, the regulator stated.

According to the SACAA, Comair operations experienced issues ranging from engine failures, engine malfunction, and landing gear malfunctions in the past month.

It describes these as “level 1” and “level 2” findings, with level 1 being the most urgent.

Comair can appeal the suspension under part 185.04.2 of the regulations.

“The SACAA recognises the efforts of the operator to close the findings as speedily as possible and in this regard the operator started dispatching the evidence to the regulator from the evening of Saturday 12 March 2022,” it stated.

“The inspectorate team worked through the night to review the evidence received and as at 06:30am on the morning of 13 March 2022 the regulator accepted the corrective action and evidence submitted in respect of one Level 1 finding. This therefore means this finding is now closed.”

SACAA said the review of the rest of the evidence of which the latest was received around 07:30 this morning, will continue to be assessed and reviewed by the inspectorate this morning.

Two level 1 findings, and one level 2 finding remain to be addressed.

SACAA explained that under its oversight philosophy, a level 1 finding which poses an immediate risk must be closed immediately and a level 2 finding must be closed within seven days.

“The SACAA sought to confirm Comair’s compliance with applicable Civil Aviation Regulations. The inspection was also aimed at reviewing Comair’s quality control management system and safety management systems to establish compliance related to reporting, analysis and follow-up on occurrences, and corrective action plans to prevent recurrence,” it stated.

“The commitment to safety in this case supersedes any other need and this is to ensure that South Africa maintains its safety record of having ZERO fatal airline accidents in over thirty years on South African soil.”

In a statement issued on Sunday afternoon, Comair said that it continues to engage constructively with the regulator.

“Despite working through the night, Comair will not be able to resume operations today,” it said.

“Our priority now is to assist passengers who have been stranded. We have chartered two aircraft to assist vulnerable passengers and those who most urgently need to travel.”

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Kulula and British Airways flights suspended indefinitely