The SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has begun probing the cause of an engine failure that forced the pilot of a 1Time aircraft to make an emergency landing at Durban’s King Shaka International Airport on Sunday night.
SACAA spokeswoman, Phindiwe Gwebu, said a preliminary investigation had shown that the left engine had failed.
The plane was en route to Cape Town when it was forced to turn back just minutes after take-off.
Airport emergency staff had to clear the runway for the plane to land just before 5pm.
Gwebu said that after the investigation was completed, recommendations would be made to the industry on how to avoid a similar occurrence.
“According to our investigations department, the incident involving the left engine of a 1Time aircraft is a unique one,” she said.
“There have been other engine failures, but they differ from this one.”
Gwebu could not provide the Daily News with statistics on other incidents at the time of publishing.
“Pre-flight checks on aircraft are carried out according to the manufacturer’s manual. This does not mean an incident may not occur, however,” Gwebu said.
She said SA had had an impeccable commercial plane safety record.
Karl Jensen, a former SAA pilot with more than 50 years of flying experience, said the pilot had used common sense in deciding to turn the aircraft around.
“The aircraft has two engines as a safety feature. The pilot could have easily flown to Cape Town with just one engine and he would have been fine,” Jensen said.
“He should be commended for turning back. It was the sensible thing to do.”
Jensen said commercial pilots underwent rigorous training and performing an emergency landing was an essential element of the training.
“When there is an incident that requires an engine to be shut down for whatever reason, like it may be on fire, there are procedures that are practised and the pilot and crew practise the scenarios for hours on end,” he said.
“It is all part of the training and pretty routine.”
The CEO of 1Time Airlines, Blacky Komani, said the plane had been having engine problems soon after take-off.
“But our pilot was vigilant and turned the plane around as soon as he felt something was wrong,” Komani said.
On landing, he said, the company’s maintenance managers had inspected the plane and found that it was having engine trouble, resulting in problems with the turbines.
“We want to apologise to our passengers,” he said.
The company, he said, would compensate its passengers with free flights or a night of accommodation if needed.