SA Airlink has been given the green light by to operate its entire fleet of 14 Jetstream aircraft, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) said on Thursday.
SACAA grounded the planes on December 23 after “a series of serious aircraft incidents and accidents” in the previous three months.
Just on Monday, it had yet another problem with overheating of an anti-icing system, forcing its flight to Antananarivo, Madagascar, to turn back shortly after take off. The plane was an Avro RJ85.
A replacement aircraft encountered a flap problem while on the ground and due to the indefinite delay the flight was cancelled.
The SACAA reissued three of the Jetstream aircraft with the necessary approvals to recommence operating earlier in January.
On Monday, it announced it was uplifting the suspension of the certificates of airworthiness for the rest of the fleet with immediate effect. This was subject to the airline conducting SACAA prescribed aircraft maintenance inspections on the remaining aircraft and submitting evidence of this.
SACAA spokeswoman Phindiwe Gwebu said as part of a comprehensive safety audit of SA Airlink, the aircraft’s engine manufacturer conducted a detailed analysis of the technical problems experienced by the airline.
“The recommendation of the Honeywell white paper indicates that the safety analysis of aircraft engines installed on the SA AirlinkÂ Jetstream is still within acceptable risk levels,” she said.
Honeywell is the engine maker.
“Nevertheless, the engine manufacturer has already embarked on aÂ program to redesign the engine rotating air seal plate on the global fleet, in order to further improve the safety levels.”
The company’s analysis and justification appeared to sufficiently address safety concerns related to the serviceability of the aircraft engine in question.
Gwebu said a number of areas of non-compliance with regulations were identified in inspections of the first three Jetstreams inspected. These were immediately rectified.
“After analysing substantial amount of data obtained during the inspection process from the aircraft and engine manufacturers and the operator, the SACAA airworthiness department is of the view that it has enough evidence to verify the reliability and airworthiness of the aircraft type in question.
“More importantly, the SACAA was able to verify that the mandatory maintenance inspections required… on the fleet were indeed performed as required by both the aircraft and engine manufacturers and in compliance with the applicable Civil Aviation Regulations.”
Gwebu said SACAA was “satisfied” that SA Airlink had demonstrated an “acceptable level of compliance” with regards to the airworthiness of its Jetstream fleet.
SACAA would continue overseeing the full implementation of a corrective action plan submitted by SA Airlink early in December 2009.
She said the country’s aviation safety record continues to show improvements and that these were a result of SACAA’s enhanced aviation safety and security oversight.
While there were 190 aircraft “incidents” between January and December 2008, only 125 were reported over the same period last year.
In 2008 there were 33 fatal accidents in which 94 people died, compared to 16 accidents in which 28 people died in 2009.
Gwebu said an increase in the number of inspectors and managers in recent years had improved the integrity, quality, depth and scope of its audits and inspections.
This had led to high levels of compliance with Civil Aviation Regulations