Inadequate training blamed for SAA flight crew’s control loss, report shows

Picture: Supplied

Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 21, 2023


The report revealed that the SAA flight crew momentarily lost control of the Airbus 340-346 aircraft which had 259 passengers on board. The incident was attributed to rare and unpredictable wind conditions experienced at high altitude, causing the plane to exceed its maximum operating speed.

According to the findings released this week, the incident was triggered by unusual wind patterns encountered during the commercial flight.

The Airbus A340-346, operated by South African Airways, experienced challenging wind conditions at a high altitude, which posed unforeseen difficulties. As a result, the plane temporarily lost control, leading it to surpass its maximum operating speed.

Additionally, the investigation found that the flight crew, although experienced, made errors in recovery procedures, putting the plane at risk of stalling.

Furthermore, the simulator used for pilot training did not accurately replicate the conditions they faced during the flight.

It is noted that the the pilots lacked proper training material to handle such incidents. Thankfully, there were no injuries or damage during the incident.

However, the investigation found that high-altitude overspeed training with drastic wind speeds, could have better prepared the pilots and minimised the surprise.

The pilot in charge and co-pilot 2, had the required and valid licenses, but co-pilot 1 did not meet the license requirements for commercial operations.

According to a “Business Day” article, SAA responded to the report, stating: “SAA is aware that the report in question was published on the German regulatory website of the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft and Accident Investigation.

“SAA has not officially received the report from the SACAA nor the German regulator.

“It must be noted that this safety report relates to an incident which occurred in November 2018, both SAA and the SACAA had previously completed and provided inputs to the German Investigative Authority prior to business rescue and subsequent restructuring of the airline.”

Following the incident, SAA has introduced new procedures to carefully verify the licenses of their pilots with additional adjustments to the checklists used in their training department and flight operations.

These changes are intended to ensure that the simulator software aligns accurately with the real aircraft