|The Hon Gary Gray AO MP
Special Minister of State
Minister for the Public Service and Integrity
Member for Brand
|The Hon Judi Moylan MP
Member for Pearce
12 February 2013
A Liberal and Labor MP last night expressed grave concerns about South African air safety, following a series of incidents.
Their concerns focused on an aircraft maintenance company called Nelair.
In Federal Parliament, Ms Judi Moylan, Member for Pearce, and Special Minister of State Gary Gray, Member for Brand, detailed numerous safety failures and official inaction since a South African registered Cessna crashed in 2004, killing six people including three from Perth.
The Cessna had been on a flight over Zambia's spectacular Victoria Falls.
Ms Moylan said despite the South African Department of Transport telling the Department of Foreign Affairs that the license of the maintenance company had been permanently cancelled, Nelair was still advertising itself as one of the largest privately owned companies in South Africa concentrating on aircraft operation, maintenance and servicing.
Mr Gray said since 2004, Nelair had been involved in two further serious aviation incidents.
On August 22, 2007, Nelair aircraft ZS MHE was involved in a forced landing with five foreign tourists on board. The South African Civil Aviation Authority reported leaks and anomalies in maintenance which prompted a recommendation for greater oversight.
On July 23, 2010, Nelair aircraft ZS KDX lost a propeller similar to ZS KOX in 2004. Part of the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s report noted the verbal confirmation of various propeller Air Maintenance Organisations that it was a norm in the industry that certain tasks were not carried out due to alleged cost implications to the owners.
The 2004 crash happened after the propeller of Cessna ZS KOX fell off at 8000 feet.
On board from Perth were Justine Watters, her husband Matt Watters, both 26, and Matt’s mother Shirley Watters, 58, plus Justine’s friends from England, Justin and Rebecca Ward, also 26, and Canadian pilot Mike Channar, 24.
Justine’s father, Sam Morton, has campaigned relentlessly for justice since the crash.
“Sam has been a constant source of comfort to the other families affected by this disaster and has continued to press tirelessly for action from the South African Government,” Ms Moylan said. “He wants to ensure that such an event cannot happen again, for this was no accident.
“It is a sorry saga and those responsible have not yet had to face up to their actions.”
She said parts of the aircraft returned from the United States after forensic testing to the Zambian Department of Civil Aviation had gone missing. The South African Civil Aviation Authority also claimed key files were lost and a Board of Inquiry was cancelled at the last minute without clear reasons.
“Time delays and the failure of the relevant South African authorities to notify the South African Police Services, within a reasonable period of time, that a criminal investigation is called for has resulted in crucial evidence being lost or unaccounted for.”
Mr Gray tabled documentation he had compiled on the crash of ZS KOX, with the assistance of Ms Moylan.
“I know I speak for this whole Parliament when I appeal to the South African Department of Transport to take appropriate action, to ensure proper investigation and, if appropriate, prosecute those responsible for this terrible and tragic event,” Mr Gray said.
“Many South Africans, Africans, Australians, British, Canadians and others travel by air in South Africa.
“They should be able to do so in safety.”
|John Arthur (Gary Gray)||0408 991 261|
|Simon Hall (Judi Moylan)||0434 492 000|