Tag Archives: SouthAfricanAviation

Major-General Wiseman Simo Mbambo is appointed as Chief of the South African Air Force

From the President’s media release: Major-General Mbambo began his military career in Umkhonto we Sizwe, where, among other things, he served as a training instructor in the Kibaxe Camp in Angola and was Commander in Charge of the former MK Military Aviation Group that underwent training in the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.

He has served in several positions in the South African Air Force, including General Officer Commanding Air Force Base Waterkloof and Chief of Staff Air Operations Major-General Mbambo is currently Deputy Chief of Staff of the SANDF.”

New York Air National Guard Capt. Patrick Gillen leads South African Maj Gen Wiseman Simo Mbambo on a tour of a US Airforce C-5M Super Galaxy cargo bay undergoing refurbishment at the base during 2015

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also announced that from 1 June 2021, Lieutenant-General Rudzani Maphwanya will take over as chief of the South African National Defense force SANDF from General Solly Shoke, who has been chief of the SANDF since 2011.

SAAF Helicopters from various squadrons ,Lynx,Oryx,Rooivalk and A109s

South African Airways Technical reaches an agreement with its customers and reinstates Aircraft Maintenance Services

Johannesburg, 04 October 2020. South African Airways Technical (SAAT) has reached an agreement with its customers and has begun to reinstate aircraft maintenance services to some of its customers. This development follows a decision taken by SAAT to suspend maintenance services to four of its airline customers in September 2020 due to outstanding payments on services already rendered.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with at least two of our customers and will continue to have discussions with two others as we seek to find a resolution and settlement on these matters,” said SAAT CEO, Adam Voss.

SAAT is one of the leading Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) entities in Africa and offers an array of services (that include base and line maintenance) to its customers to ensure that they operate in a safe and legally compliant manner. In addition, preservation maintenance is offered for the protection of the aircraft that is not operating.

“The decision we took to suspend services to our customers was not taken lightly. We had to protect our commercial interests which extend to the wellbeing of our employees who were adversely impacted by the cashflow challenges we experienced, resulting in payment of 25% of their salaries for the month of September,” explained Voss.

SAAT apologized to all its employees for the inconvenience and is in discussions with its labour unions to arrange for the payment of balance of salaries for the month of September.

South African Airways (SAA) is one of the airlines that was impacted by the suspension of the aircraft maintenance service. The airline has made a payment to SAAT and the suspension of services was lifted on Wednesday. SAA charter flights planned to operate this week were consequently not impacted by last week’s suspension.

Another customer, Mango Airlines, has reached an agreement with SAAT making it possible to lift the suspension on Mango Airlines to commence work on their fleet as of Friday. The aircraft affected returned to service on Saturday, 3 October, to transport passengers.

“We all appreciate that the aviation landscape has changed drastically due to the impact of Covid-19 outbreak globally. We know that many of our customers were not able to trade and generate much needed revenue to pay for services rendered. As part of recovery strategy and a way forward, we agreed with these customers that SAAT will receive upfront payment for services that must be rendered,” Voss concluded.

Discussions are ongoing with all affected customers to find solutions on how to address the legacy issues that resulted in the suspension of the maintenance services.

As an MRO, SAAT is satisfied with progress made and is committed to working with all its customers and partners as the industry seeks to rebuild itself and to adapt to the new norms brought about by the coronavirus.

Cuban South African Airforce Graduates

by Lt Gen F.Z. Msimang, Chief of the South African Air Force

Life is indeed cyclical. Many years ago, in the mid-80’s a young soldier by the name Zakes Khulu along with his comrades found themselves in a foreign country pursuing aviation studies. They learned all they could in that country, immersing themselves in its culture, its ways of life. They would eventually return home with their newly acquired skills, eager to start collaborating in establishing a new democracy. Looking back at their journey in many ways mirrors your own. You too were deployed to a foreign country to learn, to grow, to improve and be immersed in a culture engendered with liberation so that when you returned, which you have now done, you will continue the democracy building project. That Zakes Khulu with some of those surviving comrades, stand before you now beaming with pride for your extraordinary achievements, watching you ride the waves of endless possibilities. We are extremely proud of you all.

We are here, today, under strict Covid-19 regulations, which we must observe and respect accordingly, to welcome all of you on parade and your proud families, loved ones and friends to this auspicious and memorable occasion. We are here to honour a group of military aviators who trained in the Republic of Cuba; we welcome them home to their esteemed SAAF flying community. 

Graduates, you have touched my heart. You have carried yourselves with exceptional grace and honour. You kept your promise to me. You have brought home commendable results but know this road still unfolds before your feet. Baba Mandela – the Father of our Nation – once said: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

This parade marks one of the many summits you will have to reach in your long careers in the SANDF.

But as your achievements belong to you they belong also to your unwavering support structures. It was a community project. This journey would have been impossible without the commitment and dedication of your instructors, your mentors and of cause – the support of your proud parents, family members and loved ones. A special word of thank you to all the SAAF members who helped you work through obstacles, while you tenaciously invited the universe to mold you into fine soldiers. 

Our unbreakable bonds between the Cubas and our government can be traced to its support of African liberation movements, following the overthrow of the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 by “The Movement,” formed by late longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Cuba supported the anti-apartheid struggle in this country opposing racial segregation when it was not fashionable to do so. It criticised the international community for blatantly ignoring South Africa’s human rights’ violations – the very rights that many are taking for granted in this country today. 

When the democratic South African National Defence Force entered into bilateral agreements with The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces to create study opportunities for our soldiers,  the South African Air Force (SAAF)  embraced this opportunity with open arms.

We identified disciplined young men and women to undergo training in Cuba, where they would be immersed in a different culture, social structure, and political landscape. In 2014, we sent twenty-seven candidates to undergo various training specialties in aviation engineering, air traffic control and pilot training fields. They stand before us now: a result of a bond based on shared revolutionary principles. 

I kept an eagle eye on your developments in Cuba. I was pleased to learn that you turned every challenge into an opportunity for growth. Your results speak for themselves. You received golden awards for both academia and sports. You even experienced the devastating hurricane Irma and used that difficult time to learn major survival skills. Your stay in Cuba also coincided with the mourning of the passing of one the world’s finest revolutionaries Fidel Castro, his message of resistance to oppression resounding strong. Cuba provided you with immense lessons in patriotism, survival and determination. May these lessons nourish you.

Additional  SAAF students commenced with their aviation training in Cuba in 2018 and 2019. We are expecting more graduates in 2021, 2022 amd 2026. Extending the SAAF training scope to various foreign countries will ultimately bring about a generation of differently trained individuals who if nurtured and allowed to plough back their knowledge, will enhance our outlook as part of the global community.

And as we reach our close, I must stress that the knowledge you have acquired is crucial in meeting our Constitutional mandate and requirements. Our constitution states that “the Defence Force must be structured and managed as a disciplined military force”. As a soldier, for me, the success of the SAAF will be underpinned by an enforcement of discipline and the concentration on functional, developmental and physical training. May we be soldiers who live in integrity: for ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism. You have answered our Nation’sd call – Which is Service, and Country. May you grow to be airmen with integrity,…… for ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism. 

As proud and devoted members of the SANDF, we must have  an eagle’s eye view on any challenge and hover above  it menacingly, in the knowledge that our citizenry expects nothing less  than a deep sense of security from us.

The Chief of the SAAF concluded his speech below:

TO THE MEMBERS ON PARADE, I WISH YOU ALL SUCCESS IN YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVOURS. YOU ARE OUR FUTURE LEADERS.  GO OUT THERE AND SERVE THE NATION.   THE AIR FORCE COMMAND COUNCIL WILL CERTAINLY BE FOLLOWING YOUR CAREERS WITH INTEREST – CONTINUE WITH THE HARD WORK AND DISCIPLINE YOU HAVE DEMONSTRATED THUS FAR.

MAY YOU BE ABUNDANTLY BLESSED. 

I THANK YOU.

Aero L39s of the Cuban Airforce were used as ab-intio trainers for South African Air Force pupil pilots!

COVID Aviation Trips – SAAF Museum Swartkop

By now most of us have been absolutely deprived of aviation. Unfortunately all airshows for 2020 have been either postponed or cancelled. This leaves us with almost no aviation action, or does it?

In the coming weeks, we will be looking at different smaller aviation spots that can help scratch that aviation itch that has been annoying us all during this lockdown.

In the second installment of this series we’ll be looking at the Swartkop, South African Air force (SAAF) Museum branch. With the museum opening to the public on the 1st of October 2020, this makes for another spot where aviation enthusiast can experience some aviation action.

The SAAF Museum hosts many ex-SAAF aircraft ranging from Impalas to Cheetahs and Alouette to Puma. The hangars bare host to most of the museum’s static aircraft.

At time of writing the museum will only be open to the public on Mondays to Thursday from 08h30 to 14h00. When we will see Saturday Flight Training days again is not yet known, but pilots that have not flown since the beginning of Lockdown have been flying in the weeks so there is always a chance of seeing some aircraft in the air as well.

We look forward to spending some time at the museum again soon. As always, entry to the museum is free, but a donation goes a long way towards preserving our aviation heritage.

Newcastle Airshow KZN Back in 2021

The annual Newcastle Airshow is set to take place in Kwa-Zulu Natal on June 5th 2021 next year.As always Newcastle being one of the great county airshows in South Africa buts on a variety of aircraft in their display program including the South African Air force and many civilian types.

The organisers and sponsors of the annual Newcastle Airshow made a decision today to host the 10th Newcastle Airshow on the 5 June 2021.The decision was taken due to COVID- 19 restrictions.See you in 2021 !

“It’s up to all of us to slow the spread of COVID-19. Everyone, including young and healthy people, should avoid large gatherings during this time. Stay up to date with public health guidelines from sacoronavirus.co.za.

The Newcastle Airshow has been running annually since 2011 and seen many crowd favorites including the Puma Flying Lions Harvards, Pitts Specials,L39s ,C130BZ, Gripen , Agusta A109LUH and many more.

We look forward to next years show and seeing the Champ Marketing team putting on a good show!

More aircraft to leave SAA!

Sawubona! For many years South African Airways have been our national carrier connecting South Africans to the world and the world to South Africa. South African Airways is as much a part of our lives as is rugby, soccer or just being social. South African Airways has represented South Africa and her people on many occasions from flypasts at big sporting events and presidential inaugurations to flying our Olympic Teams all over the world. SAA helped unite South Africa in many ways… who will forget the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the kick, Mr Mandela and the SAA B747 flypast? 

For some time now, South African Airways have been struggling to get the books to balance and various attempts to better the situation have been attempted but for now another chapter has started. It is with a heavy heart that we have to report that SAA are to send back 20 leased aircraft to their lessors. The aircraft, their departing dates and destinations are:

Airbus A320 – 200’s

ZS-SZB : 14 July 2020 – Slovenia
ZS-SZC : 14 July 2020 – Slovenia
ZS-SZD : 14 July 2020 – Slovenia
ZS-SZF : 14 July 2020 – France
ZS-SZG : 14 July 2020 – Estonia
ZS-SZH : 14 July 2020 – France

Airbus A330-300’s

ZS-SXI : 15 July 2020 – France
ZS-SXK : 15 July 2020 – France
ZS-SXJ : 15 July 2020 – France
ZS-SXL : 15 July 2020 – Netherlands
ZS-SXM : 15 July 2020 – TBA

Airbus A330-200’s

ZS-SXU : 10 July 2020 – Spain

Airbus A350-900’s

ZS-SDC : 10 July 2020 – Spain
ZS-SDD : 10 July 2020 – Spain

Airbus A350

No matter what the future hold for South African Airways, the flying Springbok, the people who work there and the beauties that grace our skies will forever be etched in our hearts and be a symbol of pride, our national colours and the warm hospitality of a nation.

“ZUTEE” Now Flying in the USA

A once familiar Aero L39 Albatross ZU-TEE that was often seen at airshows around South Africa now resides in the United States.The former Czechoslovakia jet trainer saw a number of colour schemes when the aircraft was based in South Africa and owned by John Wright at first then onto Charles Urban before heading down to Port Elizbeth and flying with Sea View Aerobatics.

Langebaanweg Airshow 2017
Ermelo Airshow April 2018

ZU-TEE is an ex Ukrainian aircraft. The aircraft was restored to flying condition in late 2004 with the help of Vladimir Stoikine and team, after last having flown in 1996.

When most Eastern Block Airforces retired the L39, the airframe became available for purchase for civilians and a number of L39s became airworthy around the world including a number of L39s being imported into South Africa for private use.


The aircraft was first painted in the White and red scheme, with Aviation Dimension logos. Aviation Dimension which was branded on the jet at the time. After this agreement expired, the aircraft was then painted in the all black scheme, and then fitted with Castrol sponsorship in 2006, as part of the L-39 / Jet dragster show down Unfortunately Johann Jacob’s was tragically killed when his jet car over turned in the Northern Cape during a land speed record attempt It then went onto a all black colour scheme without any sponsors for awhile, looking very similar to the Cape Town Based Thunder City aircrafts inventory colour scheme.

First colour scheme on the South African Airshow Circuit with White and red scheme, with Aviation Dimension logos
Castrol sponsorship in 2006, as part of the L-39 / Jet dragster show down
During AAD2006 Ysterplaat Airforce Base, Cape Town

In 2008 the aircraft was painted into the wildcat scheme in a blue and white livery and in 2010,as it was seen at AAD with Avpix branding, under which Frans Dely (RIP) used as a campership for a number of Air To Air photography shoots.

During its time on the airshow circuit Pierre Gouws was the display pilot for ZU-TEE, he still currently displays with Richard Lovetts Middelburg based L39 ZU-IBN, which is an identical aircraft with the same colour scheme as ZUTEE to date. Charles Urban also displayed the aircraft before he sold the aircraft to Seaview Aerobatics in Port Elizabeth.

L39s ZU-TEE&ZU-IBN Ermelo Airshow 2018

Glen Warden displayed the aircraft before it left for the United States of America.

SAAF Museum Airshow 2012
Newcastle Airshow 2014 KZN
SAAF Museum Airshow 2018

ZUTEE is currently in Orange County New York, where it has recently been based and has believed to have been sold to another American owner. You can see clearly ZU-TEE is still on the jet but its new North American Registration is N699BA.

ZU-TEE is still on the jet but its new North American Registration is N699BA.

The Aero L-39 Albatross is a high-performance jet trainer developed in Czechoslovakia by Aero Vodochody. It was designed during the 1960s as a replacement for the Aero L-29 Delfín as a principal training aircraft. It was the first trainer aircraft to be equipped with a turbofan powerplant.The L39 Is still in service with a number of air forces including Uganda and Cuba and many more!


South African Airways scales down capacity due to travel disruptions and restrictions caused by Coronavirus

JOHANNESBURG. 18 March 2020. South African Airways (SAA) has scaled down capacity in response to the low demand for air travel. The effects of the outbreak of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) have led to travel disruptions and restrictions across the world, leading to the grounding of aircraft, releasing employees, and cancelling flights for many airlines. SAA is not immune to these realities.

In the light of the substantial fall in demand for air travel, SAA has reviewed its flight schedule and has decided to operate flights only under circumstances where its load factors and other business considerations weigh in favour of scheduling flights. However, certain flights that have been negatively impacted more than others, are consequently cancelled.

“Notwithstanding the decline in demand, SAA continues to aggressively review its schedule to match capacity with demand to the extent possible. Where feasible, we will consider options that include cancelling and merging flights,” said SAA Chief Commercial Officer, Philip Saunders.

For the period 17 until 31 March 2020, SAA has cancelled a total of 162 flights. Of these, 38 are international and 124 are regional (destinations on the African continent) flights.

At the same time, the airline is continuing to provide a service on the domestic, regional and international networks for those passengers whose travel is essential and cannot be avoided. For the time being, the airline will continue to operate to and from destinations unaffected by travel restrictions aimed at combatting the spread of the Coronavirus.

“Our priority is to assist those travellers wishing to repatriate to their home countries to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible. Naturally, this includes South African citizens abroad wishing to return home,” Saunders explained. 

Subject to the conditions set out in the travel ban announced by government in South Africa, SAA will also facilitate the transfer of qualifying passengers to or from the destinations it flies to, which have been classified as high-risk areas.

Appreciating the impact of travel restrictions emanating from the outbreak of the Coronavirus, SAA has demonstrated its commitment towards looking after its customers by providing flexible rebooking options.

“We have updated our Customer Reservation Policy to help our passengers defer their travel plans where possible. To this end, we have offered our customers one free ticket change, in acknowledgement of travel restrictions that are not of our customers’ own making,” Saunders elaborated.

The Updated Reservation Policy now extends to the entire SAA route network.

Below is a summary of the amended travel policy, which is available on www.flysaa.com.

§  Must rebook / reissue ticket/s by 30 April 2020.

§  Complete travel by 28 February 2021.

§  Rebook same booking class with no additional collection and change fees waived.

§  Additional fare collection and taxes will apply to cases of seasonality change, but change fees will be waived.

§  If same booking class is not available, upgrade to lowest applicable booking class.  Additional fare collection and taxes will apply but change fees will be waived.

§  One (1) free change and ticket reissue permitted only.

§  Tickets to be endorsed “COVID-19 SA FLT/DATE”.

§  Applicable to all fare types.

§  Change of cabin will not be permitted.

§  Change of routing will not be permitted.

§  This travel advisory waives the 72-hour rule.

§  This policyis applicable to South African Airways flights only and does not apply to Mango, SA Express and Airlink, issued on SA (083) ticket stock and not on separate tickets of other airlines. This policywill apply when Mango, SA Express and Airlink forms part of the itinerary issued on SA (083) ticket stock.

§  No refunds are permitted as part of this advisory.

§  Other refunds are permitted according to the applicable fare rules.

§  Previous No-show passengers are not eligible for this waiver.

§  SAA reserves the right to withdraw or revise the terms and conditions without prior notice.

SAA regrets any inconvenience to our customers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and we encourage all customers to visit our website www.flysaa.com for further updates.

Customers are advised to contact either their travel agents, or for direct bookings, the  South African Airways Call Centre on +27 (0)11 978-1111 or 0861 606 606 or 0800 214 774 (South Africa only) or +27 (0)11 978-2888.

“We thank customers for their continued support and placing their trust in South African Airways with their travel plans,” concluded Saunders.

SAA will provide regular and timely updates through media statements and through our travel trade partners.

-Ends-

For media enquiries,  please contact:

SAA Spokesperson
Mr Tlali Tlali 
Email:               TlaliTlali@flysaa.com
Mobile:             +27 (0)82 333-3880
Office:               +27 (0)11 978-2298

Customers to contact:

South African Airways Call Centre on +27 (0)11 978-1111 or 0861 606 606 or 0800 214 774 (South Africa only) or +27 (0)11 978-2888.

General Enquiries:

Website: www.flysaa.com

Twitter (Primary): @flysaa – https://twitter.com/flysaa

Twitter (Customer Service): @flysaa_care – https://twitter.com/flysaa_care

Facebook: www.facebook.com/flysaa

SAA Extends Sale Offering Of Up To 20% Discount Across The Route Network

Johannesburg, 3 March 2020 – South African Airways (SAA) has extended its sale, offering discounts of up to 20% to major destinations across its route network.

These offers are available for sale from today to 5 March only so customers are encouraged to respond quickly to take advantage!  The sale has been extended due to the positive uptake last week, where SAA recorded high levels of sales activity across its markets.

“Due to the tremendous response we received last week for our special offers, the sale is back by popular demand and we are extending it during this week,” said Philip Saunders, SAA Chief Commercial Officer.

The extended sale will be accessible on all SAA’s major distribution channels, at www.flysaa.com and throughout a network of travel agents both in South Africa and in other African and international markets the airline continues to serve.

“We are pleased that our customers and travel trade partners are showing renewed trust in our brand. We aim to build further on this trust by offering our customers more exciting offers over the months ahead,” said Saunders.

SAA’s sales have also been bolstered by the reinstatement of the Travel Insurance Consultants insurance services across the travel trade, which provides protection for customers choosing to fly with SAA.

The extended sale includes destinations such as New York, London, Washington DC, Perth, Frankfurt, Blantyre, Dar es Salaam, Kinshasa, Harare, Lilongwe, Lagos, Lusaka, Livingstone, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls and Windhoek.

Prices are all-inclusive and for return flights and are available in economy class, as well as for travel in business class.

Travellers can choose to fly between Johannesburg and New York, London, and Frankfurt from as little as R8 999. These economy class return offers are fully inclusive, providing a discount of up to 20% with Business class tickets also discounted at up to 20%, with fares to New York from R49 927, London from R37 178 and Frankfurt from R32 902.

For further information, customers can book on www.flysaa.com or contact their nearest travel agent. T’s and C’s apply.

The airline’s revised route network will ensure customers keep reaching their destinations while enjoying SAA’s 4-star experience along the way.

SAA Joins Fight Against The Illegal Wildlife Trafficking

JOHANNESBURG. 3 MARCH 2020 – As the world commemorated World Wildlife Day on Tuesday, South African Airways said it would help intensify the fight against the global illegal wildlife trafficking.

As a new member of the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES), the national carrier said it would work hard to reduce the trafficking seizure of 42% of wildlife animals checked in luggage, 4% hidden in passenger clothing, 23% in air flight, 4% in mail and 27%  recorded as unknown.

SAA employees are being trained in methods to detect wildlife smugglers and their activities and to report these to the relevant authorities.

USAID ROUTES said Africa is a significant source of smuggled live animals and wildlife products.

For example, in 2019 more than 103 wildlife animals were seized in three countries across the African continent. Most commonly, air traffic of wildlife animals in the African skies involves:

·       Ivory moved from East Africa, through the Middle East, into Asia;

  • Rhino horn moved from Southern Africa, through East Africa and the Middle East, into Asia;
  • Pangolin scales moved from West Africa, through Europe, into Asia;
  • Tortoises moved from Madagascar, through East Africa, into Asia;
  • Abalone moved from Southern Africa straight to Asia and
  • Nile crocodiles moved from the Horn of Africa into the Middle East.

Now SAA said it was committed to taking action to protect wildlife and their natural heritage.

SAA has joined the fight against illegal wildlife trade by adopting the Illegal Wildlife Trade Module of the IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) Programme. IEnvA is an equivalent of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), but in terms of the environment rather than safety. SAA is audited, much like IOSA, and certified as IEnvA compliant. The airline was recently successfully audited through the Illegal Wildlife Trade module of the IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) Programme to ensure that the correct systems and procedures are in place.

In its effort to fight against illegal wild-life trade, SAA recently conducted an awareness campaign among its employees to demonstrate how a trained dog can reinforce detection efforts to combat wildlife trafficking in the air transport industry.

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