Near miss at OR Tambo still mak­ing waves a year later

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - STAFF RE­PORTER

A NAR­ROWLY averted col­li­sion be­tween a Boe­ing and a light air­craft at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port a year ago is still af­fect­ing air traf­fic con­trol man­age­ment there.

Yes­ter­day, trade union Sol­i­dar­ity said the two Air Traf­fic and Nav­i­ga­tion Ser­vices (ATNS) of­fi­cials who in­vesti- gated the in­ci­dent had rec­om­mended dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against four air traf­fic con­trollers, but in­stead were ac­cused of racism and sus­pended.

“Turn­ing the mat­ter into a racial is­sue is an in­jus­tice to our mem­bers. What’s more, the pub­lic’s safety is put at risk when se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tions are ig­nored,” Sol­i­dar­ity spokesman Piet le Roux said.

He said the fact that the man­agers were white and the con­trollers, who he said had vi­o­lated air safety rules, were black should not play a role.

Sol­i­dar­ity said the in­quiries re­lated to sev­eral in­ci­dents.

One was an in­ci­dent at OR Tambo in June 2013. “In this in­ci­dent, the air traf­fic con­troller almost caused a fa­tal plane crash by giv­ing a Boe­ing 777-200 of an in­ter­na­tional air- line per­mis­sion to take off and al­low­ing a smaller plan to land on the same run­way at the same time,” said Sol­i­dar­ity.

“To make mat­ters worse, it is clear form the sound record­ing of the in­ci­dent that the air­traf­fic con­troller, after is­su­ing the con­flict­ing in­struc­tions, be­came aware that his in­struc­tions would lead to an ac­ci­dent, but kept quiet in­stead of tak­ing emer­gency mea­sures. A poten- tial ac­ci­dent and loss of life were avoided at the last minute when the pi­lot of the smaller plane broke off the land­ing with a risky eva­sive ma­noeu­vre.”

Sol­i­dar­ity said the in­ci­dent was rated as a class A2 in­ci­dent, just two lev­els be­low the most se­ri­ous type of in­ci­dent, a full-scale crash.

ATNS had not re­sponded to a re­quest for com­ment by the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

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