South Africa’s civil aviation regulator has grounded carrier CemAir again, citing maintenance oversight concerns, as it signals increasing frustration and impatience with the airline.

CemAir’s air operator’s certificates were suspended during the evening of 11 January, after the regulator said the airline was unable to demonstrate that its fleet was airworthy.

The Johannesburg-based carrier primarily operates Bombardier CRJ regional jets and Dash 8 turboprops. Its services had been suspended in February last year and again during December.

South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority says the grounding is necessary owing to a “systemic failure” of the airline’s maintenance control.

It has expressed irritation with “alternative information” emerging about the situation, and has taken the step of publicly detailing its justification for the grounding.

The authority suspended CemAir’s operating certificates on 13 December, but the airline sought a court order to overturn the decision.

CemAir’s operations were then subjected to an audit during 21-24 December.

Five of the 11 findings revealed by the audit were classified as high level. While CemAir drew up an acceptable action plan for dealing with 10 of the findings, the civil aviation authority says the airline has not submitted suitable measures to address continued airworthiness.

“The initial [corrective plan] and subsequent revised versions were reviewed and found to be unacceptable,” the authority adds.

It grounded eight CemAir aircraft on 26 December, and over the next two weeks carried out inspections to monitor the airline’s implementation of airworthiness actions.

“These follow-up inspection exercises did not meet the regulators’ expectations and the necessary evidence could not be produced by the operator,” says the civil aviation authority.

The authority also claims that CemAir has not been able to show that it implemented recommendations from aircraft manufacturers aimed at bringing its maintenance schedule up to date – describing the situation as “bizarre” and “very serious”.

“Based on the renewal audit findings and the subsequent confirmation of the systemic maintenance failure, it became evident…that CemAir is simply unable to prove the continued airworthiness of its entire fleet,” it adds.

CemAir has the right to appeal, says the authority, although submitting such an appeal would not nullify the suspension. It also stresses that it remains prepared to assist the airline to meet its regulatory requirements.

Source: Cirium Dashboard