FlySafair update | South African flights

FlySafair - technical issues fully resolved


27 JANUARY 2016 - FlySafair has confirmed that the faulty issues, which happened in two separate and unrelated incidents last weekend on flights FA103 and FA202, have been resolved.

Both flights were bound for Cape Town and were turned back to Johannesburg, their departure city, due to technical issues that led to the loss of cabin pressure.

FlySafair, First Car Rental's official airline partner, who has flown over 9,600 flights without incident, has released a statement (below) regarding the investigation findings of these two incidents.

Comments Melissa Storey, Executive Head: Strategy, Development & Marketing at First Car Rental, "I think what exacerbates the perception of these incidents is probably every traveller's worst fear coming true due to the lack of control in an individual capacity. The deployment of oxygen masks would certainly have contributed to a dramatic scene and therefore added to the fear factor.

However I'd rather get the fright of my life (which I have had on many occasions with many other airlines around the world over the years) and stand by the precautionary action taken by FlySafair that follows a protocol of: aviate, navigate and then only communicate."



Johannesburg, South Africa - 27 January 2016 - FlySafair has confirmed that technical issues that disrupted two flights last weekend have been fully resolved.

On Friday, 22nd January, Flight FA202 from Johannesburg to Cape Town was cruising at 36,000ft when it experienced a gradual loss of pressure on board.

The pilots commenced a fully controlled slow descent, in accordance with Boeing manuals and Safair- and CAA-approved operating procedures, taking nine minutes to get to 10,000ft, a height where the aircraft does not need to be pressurised.

The aircraft was checked by engineers who repaired a loose clamp on a duct. After successful pressurisation tests on the ground and test flights up to an altitude of 36,000ft, the aircraft re-entered service on Sunday, 24th January.

Unfortunately, while operating flight FA103 from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Sunday, a second, coincidental technical incident occurred. On this occasion, a cargo door seal caused a gradual loss of pressure in the cabin. Once again, pilots began a slow and fully controlled descent in eight minutes, from 32,000ft to 10,000ft.

FlySafair Chief Executive Officer, Elmar Conradie, said the airline fully appreciates and understands that some passengers were worried during the incidents. He apologised for any inconvenience caused. He added that the airline did everything in it's power to accommodate these customers and the majority travelled on a standby aircraft. He assured passengers that the crews adhered to all safety procedures and that their safety remains the airline's top priority.

Simon Segwabe, Executive Manager of air safety operations at CAA, publicly commended the FlySafair pilots for bringing passengers back to the ground safely and following CAA prescibed protocol. He expanded on the protocol explaining that pilots are required to navigate the aircraft and complete all safety procedures critical to flight, before addressing passengers.

The aircraft involved has since passed all engineering tests but will not return to service until a further series of ground and flight tests have been repeated.

"The second round of tests is not a necessary requirement of the aircraft manufacturer or the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), but we are proceeding with them anyway because safety is our priority and we want to honour our customers' trust in us," Mr. Conradie explained.

He added that FlySafair crews reacted professionally and in accordance with protocol and training to instigate a set of precautionary procedures, in line with the prescriptions of the Civil Aviation Authority and the operating manuals of the airline and Boeing.

Passengers on the flights reported that the planes nose-dived and that the oxygen masks did not work; however, Mr. Conradie says this was not the case. Both aircraft descended gradually and did not nose-dive. At no time did either aircraft descend at a rate outside the normal descent envelope.

"Oxygen masks do not inflate, which lead some passengers to believe that they were not working. As pressure loss was gradual in both incidents, oxygen was not actually required at any time during either flight. The crew manually dropped the masks as a precautionary measure and to assist in passengers' comfort," said Mr. Conradie.

The oxygen system was checked after landing and engineers confirmed that it was fully operational, that all masks deployed and all worked properly.

The oxygen canisters on the Boeing 737 are designed to provide oxygen for a period of 15 minutes, which can be double the time it takes to reach a altitude where oxygen is not needed. Understandably, some passengers tried to use the masks for longer than 15 minutes and may have had the misconception that the masks did not work.

"We acknowledge the concern these incidents may have raised among consumers, but we want to reassure passengers that we have an excellent safety record in the 50 years we have flown as Safair," said Mr. Conradie.

"We broke the mould in terms of air travel for South Africans," said Mr. Conradie. "Our arrival has seen airfares on all carriers drop by over a third across the market. We have also been the most punctual airline for all of 2015 in Johannesburg and Cape Town and we have done all of this without ever compromising on safety."

"We never compromise on customer service, either, and that is why, despite offering market-changing low fares that have allowed thousands of South Africans to fly for the first time, we were awarded the prestigious Feather Award for Customer Service," Mr. Conradie concluded.


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