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CAA National Aviation Accident Reduction Week – Kitty Hawk

The Civil Aviation Authority chose Kitty Hawk Airfield outside Pretoria to host the second instalment of the Aviation Accident Reduction Roadshow, following the positive feedback from the previous week it was hoped that many pilots would make their way to this one. Sadly the turnout was not all that good, however, those that made an attempt to be there were certainly well rewarded.

On arrival, one was greeted by members of the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre(ARCC) in full force, joined by members of the mountain rescue club, Gauteng Provincial Emergency Medical Services, K9 Ground SAR and SARZA. It was great to see these dedicated people joining this type of event. Members of the CAA Crash investigation section were on hand to answer any questions regarding crash instigation.

The morning kicked off with a scrumptious breakfast served in the Kitty Hawk Clubhouse, after breakfast all the visitors were invited to make their way to the hangar for the talks. Erik du Rand from the CAA welcomed everyone and introduced Neil de Lange, Senior Manager – General Aviation who explained the motivation behind hosting the roadshow.

Charlie Marais was then given an opportunity to address the topic of Non-Stable approaches and loss of control. Charlie, as always, put together a brilliant factual and very frank presentation, telling it as it is with no punches pulled. At times people may have found him a bit harsh but he was speaking about a subject very close to his heart as an aviator who has lost many friends to aircraft accidents. The talk led to some very interesting debates with many points raised that are normally not spoken about.

Mr (Doctor, Captain) Dave Doull was the next to take to the stage with a very interesting talk on human factors in aviation. Dave instigated some very interesting debates involving all the people rather than just presenting a long speech. The talk went on quite a bit longer than expected with the crowd participation, I do believe everyone left the talk with a much clearer idea of the importance of psychological safety in aviation and human factors in general.

Having members from ASSA and the CAA present at an airfield was the perfect opportunity for aspiring airshow acts to get their airshow validations and entertain the delegates while lunch was being prepared. Three RC aircraft acts were examined by Charlie Marais and Rikus Erasmus. The scale turbo-prop SIAI-Marchetti SF-260 flown by Paul “Skipper” Smit was definitely a highlight, although the Rebel jet and Yak 54 were very entertaining. The flights were halted temporarily as the air navigation rally competitors took off, they were however forced to return due to some nasty weather that arrived and the rally was scraped.

Lunch was then served and the lamb on the spit most definitely hit the spot, now who says you don’t get a free lunch from the CAA? Walking around while everyone enjoyed their lunch one could hear the morning talks had certainly invoked thought as many people continued the discussion, it is good to see people taking safety seriously. During the lunch break, delegates were invited to do a pre-flight inspection of an aircraft made available by Legend Sky, 15 faults were intentionally placed on the aircraft and the challenge was to identify them all.

After lunch helicopter pilot extraordinaire, Juba Joubert took the opportunity to revalidate his airshow authorisation with Charlie Marais and Rikus Erasmus. Juba flawlessly threw a Gazelle around the very grey skies. Once he landed it was time for Pierre Gouws to show what is required of a great airshow pilot under the guidance of examiner Charlie Marais, Pierre had everyone’s attention while he flew his RV-8 in a sequence of rolls and loops.

A panel discussion consisting of Cobus Toerien, ex-SAAF fighter and ex-SAA pilot, Pierre Gouws, also and EX SAAF fighter and ex-SAA pilot now flying for FlySafair, Prof Andre Nel, helicopter pilot and Chairman of Henley Air, Juba Joubert, ex-SAAF helicopter pilot and now instructor and examiner, Dave Doull, ex-SAA captain and Human Factors expert, and Charlie Marais, helicopter pilot, instructor, examiner and airshow safety officer. They informally addressed many subjects regarding aviation safety often having quite unique views on how to remedy situations, the talk was very interesting and kept everyone’s attention. Once the panel discussion was concluded the delegates headed for a cold one and some more chatter about the day's discussions.

The members of the CAA were around and were willing to have very open conversations with the pilots about their concerns, great strides were made from their side to dispel the “us and them” culture that has developed between the general aviation community and the regulator. To truly reduce accidents a mindset change is necessary from both pilots and the regulator after all both parties are striving for the same thing and working against one another will not solve the problem, this event was a great step in the right direction by the CAA and hopefully, it will lead to more and better attended events in the future.



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