top of page

The Future of Airshows in South Africa.

Is there a future for Airshows in South Africa?

Considering recent developments, the question has been tossed around on social media, at gatherings of aviation enthusiasts and generally wherever the aviation loving public communicate with one another.

Many believe that the current litigation resulting from the tragic death of Glenn Dell at the Secunda Airshow in 2013 will be the final nail in the coffin of Airshows as we know them.

A Memorandum of Agreement was signed between South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and the Recreation Aviation Administration of South Africa (RAASA) in cooperation with Air show south Africa (ASSA) and The Display Authorisation committee in December 2018.

The purpose of this document, known as the Special Air Event Manual of Procedures (MOP), is to provide guidance to the operations, administration and oversight inspectorate personnel in the performance of their duties. It is written to ensure that standards are applied that promote the safe conduct of civil aviation and to enhance the values of the SACAA.

With the establishment of RAASA in 2008, it assumed the designated function to, amongst others, approval and oversight of all Special Air Events. This was a function of the Aero Club of South Africa previously, and all the manuals and personnel (Safety Officers and Flight Directors) were brought into this new arrangement.

This manual evolved from the early manual and is updated from time to time to keep pace with changes in the environment of these events.

The latest amendments contained in this manual reflects a deep and considered comparison with the rules for similar event in the rest of the world, both in the developed USA, UK and Europe, as well as the developing eastern European community

These include Safety, Flight planning, Air Traffic Control, Civil Aviation Authority, emergency medical service (EMS), SAPS, Fire Brigade and all support services. It is important to point out that this manual does not prescribe the operational aspects or qualifications of persons involved in these services but provides that their services are required at these events.

The document also lays out the responsibilities of the show organiser, RAASA, CAA and ASSA. Procedures and timeline when applying for SAE permit. As well as the legal requirements for each category of Special Air Event.

For each Special Air event an ASSA accredited Flight Display Director (FDD) must be appointed at least 120 days prior to the event. The FDD shall appoint his airside safety team, which shall include a Flight Display Safety Officer (FDSO), Program director, Ramp director and other airside safety personnel as applicable from the ASSA database of accredited persons, and supply RAASA with written confirmation of such appointed personnel.

The document also lays out the minimum distances and heights at which displays may be flown see table and diagrams below.

Event Organisers are advised to seek professional guidance on liability aspects and to obtain advice from a reputable insurance broker with aviation experience as to the appropriate level of third-party liability coverage that should be affected. All these precautions including the contracting of “fit for purpose” Fire and Rescue teams will significantly increase the cost to the organiser making such airshows almost impossible to present without massive investment by sponsors or a sharp rise in the price of gate tickets or both.

South Africans spending power is already diminished and generally entertainment is first on the list of money savings, we as the airshow loving public will have to accept higher prices unfortunately. Considering the cost of airshows in Europe, UK and the States we are still getting to quality flying displays for a relatively good price, In the UK patrons to Farnborough Airshow had to fork out $18 for parking that’s over and above the price of an entry ticket.

The answer to the question is yes but it will probably cost us a bit more, keep supporting airshows otherwise we may not have the option in the future.

The complete document can be found here



bottom of page