The South African Civil Association says Wonderboom Airport is not at risk of losing its operating licence, despite its night flights being cancelled due to defective runway lights. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
The South African Civil Association says Wonderboom Airport is not at risk of losing its operating licence, despite its night flights being cancelled due to defective runway lights. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Suspension of Wonderboom National Airport night flights lifted

By Rapula Moatshe Time of article published Jan 10, 2022

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Pretoria - The Wonderboom National Airport, which falls under the umbrella of the City of Tshwane, has restored the operation of its night flights after they were grounded due to faulty runway lights.

City of Tshwane spokesperson Selby Bokaba said the Notice to Airmen issued by the airport management to suspend operations was lifted as of January 6.

“This happened immediately upon completion of repairs made, and the restoration of the collapsed ground lighting systems,” Bokaba said.

The City forwarded the notice to the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) for its consideration and official publication to “sensitise pilots countrywide that Wonderboom Airport’s main runway is not available for aircraft operations after dawn and before sunset”.

Bokaba apologised to the airport tenants and aircraft operators who use the airport for any inconvenience caused.

“It is unfortunate that the collapse of the ground lighting systems applicable to the main runway happened during the festive season, during which specialised maintenance companies were closed,” he said.

According to him, the City was committed to improving operations at the airport, which was still regarded as a strategic asset.

Bokaba said the defective lights were mainly due to excessive rain in December.

The suspension of any form of flight operations for maintenance activities, he said, was a standard practice accorded by the aviation authority.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Marie Bray said the airport was not at risk of losing its operating licence, despite the suspension of its night flights due to faulty runway lights.

The recent suspension of flights was put in place 10 months after the airport stopped its night operations for the same safety reasons.

Bray said: “The SACAA’s oversight system is not modelled on pass or fail. Operators are given sufficient opportunities to rectify non-compliances.

“This means that there is no reason why the operator cannot restore the status of their approval certificates if they address all regulatory non-compliances.”

Bray said the City has the responsibility to address any technical faults and issues.

“Technical faults do happen, and operators are afforded time to address and repair such faults,” she said.

According to her, the City’s licence will not be suspended or withdrawn.

“The aerodrome operator suspended night operations after conducting a risk assessment, and identifying mitigation actions.

“It is permissible for aerodrome operators to suspend operations when there is a risk that might lead to accidents and loss of life or damage to aircraft,” she said.

Bray said a report from the operator indicated that one of the constant current regulators failed on December 18 last year.

She said at the time of the fault most suppliers were closed for business, and no spares could be procured for repairs.

In March last year the aviation authority intervened at the airport after discovering that the runway, threshold and end-lights at the airport were in bad working order.

It was also found that the airport was non-compliant with its rescue and firefighting requirement.

Pretoria News

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