Avatar photo

By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

SA aviation sector recognised as among safest in the world

ICAO rates SA's safety oversight system at 91.11% placing the country at number one in Africa and number 18 in the world alongside Norway.

South Africa’s aviation sector has been recognised as among the safest in the world.

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga highlighted South Africa’s continued 0% fatal accident rate held in the commercial airlines sector for nearly four decades saying the country has been recognised for its safety standards in the aviation sector.

Chikunga was briefing the media on the state of the aviation sector on Tuesday.

Watch Transport Minister Sindiswe Chikunga brief the media on South Africa’s aviation sector

She also highlighted advancements aimed at simplifying procedures, plans to digitise the licensing procedures and introduce the newly established Aviation Appeals Committee.

Chikunga said the past two to three years has been the busiest period for the civil aviation sector as South Africa participated in four key international safety and security audits and assessments.

These included audits by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the United States safety and security Regulators namely, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

SA best in world

“South Africa performed very well in all these audits and assessments. ICAO rated South Africa’s safety oversight system at 91.11% thereby placing South Africa at number one in Africa and number 18 in the world alongside Norway.

“ICAO also did not raise any significant safety and security concerns in both the safety and security audits which happened within eight months of each other.” Chikunga said.

Chikunga said FAA recognised South Africa’s safety oversight system as meeting ICAO’s safety standards and recommended practices and therefore confirmed that South Africa retains its Category 1 status with the standards of the United States International Oversight Safety Audit (IOSA) Programme.

ALSO READ: Air safety comes under the microscope in SA

Accident rate record

Chikunga said South Africa aims to maintain a 0% fatal accident rate record for decades to come. 

“One of the current administration’s strategic targets is to reduce accidents in the general aviation sector by 50%. At the end of the previous 2022/2023 financial year, the number of accidents had decreased from 147 to 113 accidents which translated into a 23% decrease from the 2021/2022 period.

“The fatal accidents decreased from 12 to 9 fatal accidents, translating into a 25% decrease with the number of fatalities decreasing by 29.4%,” Chikunga said.

Chikunga said the aviation sector is also still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The state of aviation in South Africa is doing exceptionally well at both domestic and international levels.

“As we look towards concluding the last quarter of 2023/2024, data shows us that passenger numbers are just over 16% close to reaching pre-Covid-19 numbers. This is good news because it means that we are closer to getting back to the vibrant era of aviation as we know it,” she said.

SA airports

Chikunga also touched on the Airports Company of South Africa’s (ACSA) reviewing the master plans of its airports, driven by the current infrastructure needs while also ensuring preparedness to fulfil future demands.

“This ongoing process is crucial in strengthening the foundation for a resilient air transport system for South Africa, a cornerstone for advancing our country’s economic development and growth.

“As per the 5-year permission recently granted by the Regulating Committee, ACSA has earmarked R21.7 billion for airport infrastructure development. This investment primarily targets refurbishments, efficiency improvements, and statutory compliance measures, with the aim to enhance asset availability, airport safety, and passenger experiences across our airports,” Chikunga said.

Chikunga added that ACSA is also set to embark on the development of a new cargo terminal, known as Mid-field Cargo, at O.R Tambo International Airport on a prioritised basis, given the demand and later the development of a Mid-field Passenger Terminal.

Chikunga also highlighted the introduction of the eAirway bill with the air cargo industry to enhance efficiency and competitiveness.

ALSO READ: Poppy Khoza reappointed as director of Civil Aviation in SA