SA pilots go to court
Johannesburg – The Association of Aircraft Owners and Pilots intends taking South Africa's aviation authorities and the minister of police to court over what they feel are draconian airspace closures during the World Cup, the association said on Tuesday.
Spokesperson Koos Marais said in the run up to the event, the flying community had conducted exercises with the police and had reached agreements on flying restrictions near the stadiums where matches are being held.
They had agreed to a five nautical mile no-fly zone around the stadiums when a match was on but, said Marais, last Thursday, a day before the event started, they were informed this had been increased to 30 and 50 nautical miles, depending on the stadium.
A ban on all training flights within those restrictions had also been imposed.
Marais said that this severely restricted small operators and incurred losses for a number of trainee pilots due to start a R65 000 each course at Lanseria airport. "The regulations are draconian in nature and that is why we are opposed to them," he said.
No training flights
"They have issued and decreed that there will be no training flights allowed whatsoever, under any circumstances."
The restrictions only apply to match days, but, said Marais, the 50 nautical mile restriction is equivalent to an area of 96km around a stadium.
They would be serving papers on Tuesday and hope to have the matter heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday.
According to a statement from the police announcing the restrictions, the SA Air Force (SAAF) would control airspace around the stadiums.
South African aircrew were advised that with the exception of scheduled flights, for example by an established airline, or flights by police or defence force, aircraft have to apply to the SAAF for security screening at least 48 hours prior to the commencement of the first flight.
Foreign pilots and aircrew must apply at least seven days before the first flight.