The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) suspended the approval of Lufthansa Technik Maintenance International (LTMI) for 24 hours on March 22, 2022.
LTMI, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik and Comair, is one of the Aircraft Maintenance Organizations (AMO) that maintains the fleet of Comair.
A statement released on March 23, 2022, reveals that the 24-hour suspension follows a four-day audit, which started on March 15, 2022, and resulted in four Level 1 findings.
“The audit of both the AMOs maintaining the Comair fleet follows the conclusion of the airline’s audit by the SACAA following a spate of incidents taking place from February 2022,” according to the SACAA.
A spokesperson from Lufthansa Technik confirmed to AeroTime that the SACAA “temporarily suspended the approval for LTMI in South Africa”.
“LTMI now has 24 hours to resolve two open topics that were identified during last week’s audit and could not yet be remedied. Safety is the top priority for the entire Lufthansa Technik Group. LTMI is therefore in permanent exchange with the authorities and has set up a special quality management team to remedy the identified deficiencies sustainably and as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson added.
In an initial statement, the regulator announced Comair’s AOC had been suspended “for a period of 24 hours” on March 12, 2022, as a precautionary measure after incidents of “engine failures, engine malfunction and landing gear malfunctions, amongst others” were reported during the previous month.
As the 24-hour period concluded, the SACAA proceeded to indefinitely suspend the Comair’s AOC after raising three Level 1 findings and one Level 2 finding.
The regulator then reinstated Comair’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC) on the evening of March 16, 2022, following a five-day suspension. During this period the regulator inspected “Comair’s safety management systems (SMS) and quality control management system (QA) to establish compliance related to the reporting, analysis and follow-up on occurrences, and corrective action plans to prevent recurrence”.
According to the SACAA, “a review to establish legislative compliance related to reporting, analysis and follow-up of occurrences, and corrective action plans to prevent recurrence,” was conducted across LTMI’s quality control management system (QC) and safety management systems (SMS) during the four-day audit period.
The audit resulted in four Level 1 findings, stating that “a Level 1 finding poses an immediate risk to users of civil aviation services and such findings must be closed immediately”.
On March 20, 2022, the regulator shared the initial results of the audit with Lufthansa’s (LHAB) (LHA) accountable manager and his team giving the AMO 24 hours to make representations.
According to the regulator, the evidence provided “was found to be satisfactory in relation to two of the Level 1 findings, “leaving two outstanding Level 1 findings unclosed within the stipulated time”.
“It is for this reason that the SACAA handed a 24-hour precautionary suspension of the privileges of the AMO with effect from Monday night [March 22, 2021],” the SACAA said.
“The operator [LTMI] is required to submit further evidence to close the gaps identified by the Regulator within this period failing which the Regulator will indefinitely suspend the approval of the AMO until such findings are sufficiently closed,” the regulator added.