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Cablegate: Faa International Aviation Safety Assessment

VZCZCXRO1247
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #0073/01 0141157
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141157Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3136
INFO RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHINGTON DC
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1349

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 000073

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EB/TRA/OTP
DAKAR FOR FAA REP
ROME FOR TSA REP
FAA FOR NANCY ANGELO
FAA FOR API-1/AFS-50/AGC-7

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAIR SF
SUBJECT: FAA INTERNATIONAL AVIATION SAFETY ASSESSMENT
RESULTS DELIVERED

REF: STATE 00721

1. (U) Summary. Post delivered results of the FAA
International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) to South
African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) officials on
January 7, 2008 (reftel). Economic Counselor used the
opportunity to discuss continued civil aviation cooperation
including logistics for the upcoming January 15-17, 2008,
TSA assessment. SACAA CEO/Commissioner Captain Colin

SIPDIS
Jordaan supported continued cooperation and discussed
expansion of routes to the United States. Jordaan had the
opportunity to express his appreciation of FAA's
professional and cooperative relationship with SACAA to the
Chair of the House Subcommittee on Aviation on January 10,
2008. End Summary.

-----------------------------
Response to FAA IASA Results
-----------------------------

2. (U) Economic Counselor, Minerals and Energy Officer, and
Transportation Officer provided formal notification of
SAG's continued Category I rating under the FAA IASA
program to SACAA officials, including CEO/Commissioner
Captain Colin Jordaan and SACAA Board Chairman Duke
Moorosi, delivering a letter from the FAA Flight Standards
Director James J. Ballough on January 7, 2008. Jordaan and
Moorosi were accompanied by a team of 12 officials and used
the formal notification as a photo opportunity in advance
of a SACAA press release. (See http://www.caa.co.za/ for
press release dated January 7, 2008). Economic Counselor
also used the opportunity to introduce the newly arrived
Transportation Officer, who will be an additional point of
contact for SACAA officials.

3. (U) Captain Jordaan expressed relief in receiving the
official confirmation of Category I status. He emphasized
that the results indicated a positive response by FAA to
SACAA's process to implement changes as outlined in its
action plan for the FAA. He added that the FAA should
expect radical changes when the assessment team returns in
May 2008 for a follow-up consultation. (Note: The South
African Workers' Day holiday on May 1 should be taken into
account when scheduling this follow-up consultation).
Jordaan said a huge recruitment drive is underway to fill
vacancies identified during the FAA assessment. SACAA has
already hired 21 new airworthiness inspectors and expects
them to complete training by March. Additional inspectors
will be hired in the coming months.

4. (SBU) Jordan said SACAA would be relying on the SAA as
the primary source for its new operations inspectors, as
the SAA continues its restructuring program. Once the SAA
knows how many of its "low-end" pilots will be picked up by
foreign airlines like Emirates Airlines, the SAA will know
how many of its "high-end" pilots it can release to meet
the SACAA's requirements for experienced pilots to serve as
inspectors. He explained that SAA does not want to release
too many pilots until it has a better idea of total pilot
loss to its competitors.

5. (U) Responding to a question about plans for the passage
of new civil aviation legislation, Jordaan said the SAG has
decided to review all existing aviation legislation and
replace it with one comprehensive act. According to
Jordaan, Minister of Transport Jeff Redebe has personally
committed to expediting this process and completing it
within eighteen months. A final time frame for legislative
harmonization and progress to date will be presented to FAA
Qharmonization and progress to date will be presented to FAA
during the May follow-up consultation.

---------------
TSA Assessment

SIPDIS
---------------


6. (U) SACAA officials indicated a need for additional
information concerning the upcoming TSA assessment of SAA
and Delta air carriers from January 15-17, 2008. According
to these officials, SAA expressed surprise at the short
notice provided for the TSA assessment. SACAA has informed
SAA and has requested a confirmation of readiness. Jordaan
explained that SAA had recently lost some of its senior

PRETORIA 00000073 002 OF 002


staff as a result of the SAA's on-going restructuring,
which might have caused them to be surprised by the timing
of the TSA assessment. Regardless, Jordan said TSA or any
other aviation authority should be able conduct an audit or
assessment without advance notice.

------------------------
Expansion of SAA Routes
------------------------

7. (SBU) Responding to a question about the expansion of
routes to the U.S., Jordaan said SAA is considering a new
route between Miami and Cape Town. He believes a new route
to Miami would be commercially viable, as was previously
the case with the American Airlines code-share, but
technical feasibility issues with the Airbus 380 are
holding back a decision. (Note: SAA has phased out the use
of Boeing 747s for its international flights).
Specifically, oxygen availability could become a problem on
the Airbus 380 if decompression occured during the proposed
flight. Jordaan said that, unlike the Boeing 747, the
Airbus 380 does not have sufficient oxygen supplies in the
event that such a decompression occured. According to
Jordaan, the Boeing 747 can complete the flight at an
altitude of 14,000 or 10,000 feet with its existing oxygen
supply. With the Airbus 380, 30 less passengers would be
required to be able to carry the extra fuel needed to
complete the flight at the necessary lower altitude. These
30 passengers represent the profit margin for the flight,
making it commercially unviable. SAA will continue to try
to find a way around this technical problem. If a solution
can be found, the SAA would consider the establishment of a
Miami to Cape Town route.

----------------------
Continued Cooperation
----------------------

8. (U) Jordaan said the SACAA is supported in its efforts
by Minister Redebe. For example, Redebe authorized the
SACAA press release announcing the results of the FAA
assessment on January 7, 2008, and spoke with Secretary of
Transport Mary Peters on January 8, 2007. Jordaan also
noted that South Africa's preparations for the 2010 FIFA
World Cup could serve as an opportunity for continued
cooperation with the United States. Jordaan closed the
meeting by reiterating the SACAA's commitment to achieve
the goals it outlined during the FAA's December 2007
consultation. Jordaan praised the FAA for its cooperative
and professional relationship with SACAA. SACAA Class A1
Project Manager Riaan Myburgh also indicated a desire to
work with the FAA on safety oversight and surveillance
issues in the broader Southern African Development
Community (SADC).

9. (U) Jordaan participated in the House Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure's call on Minister Redebe
on January 10. Jordaan was able to visit with Subcommittee
on Aviation Chairman Jerry Costello (D-IL) prior to
Redebe's arrival. Jordaan discussed the SACAA action plan
with Chairman Costello and said his biggest problem was
finding qualified pilots to serve as operations inspectors.
He said the FAA had offered technical assistance to help
the SACAA complete its action plan, but that he did not
think the SACAA needed assistance at this time.
Nevertheless, he would not hesitate to ask for it if it
were needed. Costello was also able to visit Cape Town
International Airport on January 11, while the rest of the
delegation visited Robben Island.


END TEXT
QEND TEXT

BOST

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