SAA plane being towed collides into stationary FlySafair aircraft

An SAA aircraft that was being towed was dislodged from the towbar and hit a stationary FlySAfair aircraft.
An SAA aircraft that was being towed was dislodged from the towbar and hit a stationary FlySAfair aircraft.
Image: 123RF/Richard van der spuy

SAA on Sunday confirmed that one of its planes crashed into a stationary FlySafair aircraft at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. 

Both planes were grounded and were on the airport offramp when the crash occurred on Friday. 

In a statement, SAA said its aircraft, an SAA Airbus A320  (ZS-SJZ) was being towed to the maintenance facility when the tow bar of the tow truck broke, causing the aircraft to veer off and hit a parked FlySafair aircraft. 

“The SAA wing tip and the Safair empennage section were damaged. No passengers were onboard either aircraft at the time.  The SAA aircraft (ZS-SZJ) is out of operation and the impact of the wing is being assessed. Both the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have been notified. The aircraft will only return to operations once the airline is satisfied of its airworthiness.”

The airline indicated the incident caused some flight disruptions.

“As a result of the incident, SA357/372 from Johannesburg to Cape Town was cancelled and customers were accommodated on SA359/374. Further, SA323/334 [was] upgraded to operateA333 and [a] new estimated departure time for SA334 [was scheduled].”

SAA's CEO, Prof John Lamola, expressed regret about the incident. 

“This is truly an unfortunate development as this takes the seat capacity of two aircraft, an SAA A320 and a FlySafair B737 out of the market at a time when our passengers are experiencing higher ticket prices due to limited aircraft availability on our domestic market,” said Lamola. 

“My colleagues at FlySafair and I are committed to taking extraordinary steps at ensuring that both the aircraft are brought back to service as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, SAA executive for operations Madoda Nkalane said: “SAA assures its customers that all ground safety procedures have been adhered to as part of our strict safety protocols. The airline regrets any inconvenience and delays caused by this incident and for any further disruptions that might impact our schedule.”


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