Durban - SAA has appointed its first black chief pilot, who will take office from next month.

The announcement was made last week by Malusi Gigaba, the minister of public enterprises at the time.

Captain Eric Manentsa, 53, will take the reigns from Captain Jonny Woods, who resigned in July last year. He has been flying for SAA for 20 years and has been the aircraft captain on the A319/A320 fleet for the past six years. As chief pilot he will be responsible for the airline’s 800 pilots and ensure the company remains compliant with local and international regulations.

Gigaba described the appointment as a proud moment for the airline.

Manentsa played a key role in forming the SAA Cadet Pilot Programme and has helped transform the flight deck.

He has 30 years’ experience in commercial, military and the general aviation. He has 14 000 flying hours.

He was appointed as a non-executive director on the board of the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa and in 2007 he co-founded Mtha Aviation.

Manentsa will be based at Airways Park, which is the headquarters of SAA, in Joburg (near OR Tambo International Airport).

The Mercury