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Travel: US FAA Gives SAA Technical Clean Bill Of Health


Recent Gauteng Business News

South African Airways Technical (SAAT) has been given an unqualified stamp of approval by the US Federal Administration Authority (FAA) following an independent re-audit of its maintenance facilities and manpower.

The positive outcome of the re-audit has resulted in SAAT’s accreditation with the regulatory body being extended to end-July 2009.

The FAA audit is undertaken annually and gauges SAAT’s ability to safely maintain the aircraft entrusted to it by a host of domestic, regional and international carriers, including those of South African Airways (SAA).

Aircraft maintenance conducted by SAAT, the largest of its kind in Southern Africa, is governed by several international aviation regulatory bodies, including the FAA, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

These organisations have detailed, highly prescriptive and non-negotiable regulations which must be stringently adhered to in order to maintain a high level of safety.

The FAA undertook their annual inspection of SAAT’s facilities and capabilities in April this year and highlighted areas where corrective action was required.

SAT immediately worked towards addressing and correcting the audit issues and completed this within three months of the initial inspection.

On their return in November for their follow-up audit, the FAA inspectors found all the issues previously raised had been addressed to their complete satisfaction.

One of the issues raised in the FAA’s initial inspection report was concern over the loss of skills at SAAT. At the time, aircraft technicians the world over were in short supply and South Africa was not immune to this. SAAT was also affected by Middle Eastern carriers employing highly skilled and experienced South African technicians needed to maintain the hundreds of new aircraft they had purchased.

As a result, approximately 372 employees resigned from SAAT’s services between January 2006 and May 2008. A recruitment drive was initiated to find qualified and skilled technicians to close the gap left by these resignations. To date, more than 260 staff members have been employed and the recruitment of suitably qualified individuals continues.

SAAT has recently welcomed back former employees who have recognised the value of working for the acclaimed maintenance facility and who are also impressed with improvements and recent developments.

In an official letter to SAAT, the FAA states that the regulatory body is “extremely pleased with the staffing you now have”.

“The outcome of the FAA’s findings and the subsequent renewal of our accreditation with this top regulatory organisation is of incredible significance for passengers, who can rest assured that safety at SAAT remains a priority and a daily reality.”

“The FAA’s findings are also significant for all the airlines whose aircraft are maintained by SAAT. They are all highly safety conscious and only allow their aircraft to be maintained by FAA accredited maintenance organisations,” says SAAT CEO, Clive Else.

During September, South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority carried out their annual audit of SAAT and renewed its accreditation for another year, i.e to end-October 2009.

The next annual audit of SAAT by the FAA will be conducted in April 2009 to determine the renewal of its accreditation into 2010.


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