British Airways and Comair’s Kulula planes grounded in South Africa

On March 12, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) suspended Comair’s Air Operator’s Certificate for at least 24 hours. The decision led to the grounding of the operator’s plane and the subsequent cancellation of flights – a decision which impacts British Airways services in South Africa, as well as the company’s flights low cost airline Kulula.

The instant suspension left passengers angry and confused, with many having already checked in and arrived at the airport. Photos and videos posted on Twitter show the chaos at South African airports.


Triggered by numerous security incidents

According to SACAA, the sudden decision was prompted by an investigation into a series of security incidents involving Comair. SACAA notes that, in the past month alone, Comair’s airlines (Kulula and British Airways in South Africa) have experienced a number of incidents, ranging from engine malfunctions, engine failures, and landing gear malfunctions, among others.

“This is a precautionary suspension lasting 24 hours, during which the Operator must demonstrate to the Regulator that the risk and safety management systems are effective in managing potential hazards.”

This period of suspension allows members of the SACAA team to investigate and assess Comair’s compliance with safety regulations and standards.

At least four violations detected

SACAA’s statement on the grounding says it has completed an inspection of the plane and Comair’s procedures. The inspection was specifically aimed at reviewing the compliance of Comair’s Quality Control (QC) Management System and Safety Management Systems (SMS) related to reporting, analysis and follow-up of occurrences, as well as corrective action plans to prevent recurrences.

The aviation regulator noted that it discovered the following results:

  • Three (3) Level 1 Findings (posing an immediate risk should be closed immediately)
  • One (1) Level 2 finding (must be closed within seven days)

As a result of these findings, SACAA imposed “a precautionary suspension of operations” give Comair the opportunity to “demonstrate that their systems are capable of preventing and avoiding security risks.”

As such, Comair has until the morning of Sunday March 13 (local time) to meet the requirements of the SACAA. If the requirements are not met, airline operations will be suspended indefinitely until the issues can be resolved.

Comair disagrees

Speaking to South African news outlet BusinessTech, the airline operator said there was “no justification” for the imposed suspension, issuing the following statement:

“Comair regrets that our flights have been suspended by the CAA for 24 hours. This will affect both British Airways (operated by Comair). Our management team is engaging with the CAA as a matter of urgency. Comair believes there is no has no justification for the suspension”,

The operator apologized and regretted the inconvenience caused to its customers.

Undoubtedly, Comair staff will work diligently to rectify any issues reported by the authorities. At the time of this article’s publication, no further news has come from SACAA or Comair regarding the restoration of services.

What do you think of this sudden stranding? Have you been affected and do you think service will resume in a timely manner? Let us know by leaving a comment.


China follows sanctions denying spare parts for Russian airlines

Read more

About the Author

About William Moorhead

Check Also

Texas air show: 6 dead after pair of vintage military planes collide in Dallas

CNN — Six people have died after two World War II military planes collided mid-air …