South Africa Standardizes Pilot Training

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South Africa has revised pilot training and examination standards to try and stop an upward spiral of accident rates that generally bucks the trend of other countries with active GA communities. Starting Jan. 1, flight schools had to follow a standardized training syllabus and administer standardized exams that are in line with training in other countries. Until then, it was up to individual schools to decide what was taught and what was tested. Fatalities in GA accidents doubled from 18 to 36 from 2005 to 2007 and all other accident indicators were on the rise, but there was still some lingering defense of the ad hoc training system. The Civil Aviation Authority noted that the number of GA pilots increased by at least 10 percent in that time period and suggested that mitigated the toll somehow. Despite the rather unusual training and compliance standards, the basic causes of South African GA accidents sound pretty familiar to those of us who have lived under more conventional systems. "The leading cause of accidents has been human factors. By that we don't mean just pilot error. We look at things like mechanical failure due to the cutting of corners during maintenance, operators who put profits above safety and pilots who fly without enough fuel in reserve," Gilbert Twala, the CAA's chief accident investigator, said.