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Pietermaritzburg - The appointment of non-aviation trained contractors and the use of inferior materials when maintaining the airport posed a safety risk to users of the Pietermaritzburg Airport, a report tabled before members of the Msunduzi Executive Committee (Exco) revealed on Thursday.  

The report was part of the weekly reports that are tabled before and discussed by Exco members. It focused on operations, aircraft and passenger movement, compliance and maintenance for April 2017. 

The report noted that the airport recorded seven incidents during the month, with two flight diversions forced by the weather.

“Overall flight safety is compromised by the infrastructure collapse and the assignment of non- aviation trained nor experienced contractors,” read the report.

During the month there were seven flight incidents recorded, which included an engine problem, a bird strike, electrical failure and landing gear issue. Another source of concern was the airfield lighting, with the report citing major faults with cabling as the cause. “The use of inferior quality materials and the lack of understanding of the specifications has compromised the entire airfield lighting system,” the report noted.

It further indicated that some of the problems with maintenance had to do with budget allocation.

Dr. Ray Ngcobo, deputy city manager responsible for Sustainable Development and City Entities - under which the airport falls - moved to allay fears that there were problems with the airport.   

Exco member Glen MacArthur of the Democratic Alliance, however, raised concerns, citing the fact that the report was being swiftly brushed aside by the African National Congress-dominated council

Committee chairperson, and also Msunduzi deputy mayor, Thobani Zuma, was adamant that the report had been thoroughly dealt with, and insisted that the meeting move ahead.

According to the report, there were 12,076 passengers who made use of the airport in April, with a total of 1,123 flights, which included scheduled and non-scheduled flights. The list also included local and training flights.