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South African MRO checks not linked to Mango incident

South African Airways' maintenance division is undertaking corrective measures following a regulatory inspection which resulted in the grounding of a number of aircraft operated by South African carriers.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority says it "sampled a few aircraft" during the inspection of South African Airways Technical, and issued a prohibition order preventing operation of these aircraft until "irregularities" had been addressed.

SAA Techincal subsequently submitted a corrective action plan which the authority determined was "acceptable".

South African Airways, its Mango subsidiary, and operator Comair have all been told to carry out verification exercises on their fleets, and the airlines involved have self-grounded certain aircraft to ensure they are safe to fly.

The regulator says it "appreciates the seriousness" with which the airlines have taken its concerns.

South African Airways stresses that there is no link between the issues at SAA Technical and last month's serious out-of-trim incident involving a Mango Boeing 737-800 en route from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

The horizontal stabiliser trim motor had been replaced before the 2 September event, but preliminary inquiries could not establish the service history of the replacement part.

Adverse publicity over the incident spurred South African Airways to state that SAA Technical had "legitimately procured" the component from the original equipment manufacturer and that it strongly refuted any suggestion that it was supplied with "suspect" parts.

The component – fitted to the Mango aircraft on 5 August – failed after 96 cycles and 125h of operation and has been returned to the manufacturer to establish the cause.

"There is no link, direct or indirect between the aircraft incident involving the Mango flight reported on and matters that are currently under investigation at SAA Technical," adds South African Airways.

Mango director of flight operations Juan Naude states: "I have never been made aware, nor have I ever heard any rumours of bogus or untraceable parts being used by SAA Technical or in relation to Mango aircraft."

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