South Africa’s Unapproachable Approaches



South Africa is going through some troubled times on the aviation front right now. Fuel issues, power outages, and now, apparently, they are losing a whole load of their instrument approaches nationwide.

The Fuel Thing

Not as serious as their ‘fuel thing’ in 2022 (when floods disrupted the main transport line to FAOR/Johannesburg and they had severe jet fuel shortages for months).

This is limited to BP, who are to stop providing jet fuel at airports across the country. They’ve already withdrawn from FACT/Cape Town, and will do so at other main airports FAOR/Johannesburg and FALE/Durban from the end of April.

Shortages have also been occurring FABE/Port Elizabeth, FALE/King Shaka, FAEL/East London and FAUT/Mthatha.

So if you’re headed there, double-check with your local agent what alternative fuel suppliers are available, and what actual fuel is available for that matter.

The Power Thing

Load shedding is an ongoing issue. All airports have their own generators, so ops generally aren’t the issue. However, it is causing some concerns (again) for fuel.

Airlines have been tankering into FACT/Cape Town due to potential limits after the load shedding caused problems with the primary supplier.

There have been some Notams suggesting limited tower availability at some (generally smaller, regional) airports.

The Instrument Approach Thing

Authorities are suspending instrument approaches at a whole load of airports across the country. A check of South Africa’s Daily Airspace Plan shows issues with ILS, VOR, RNAV and GNSS approaches at various airports:

The reason for these suspensions is not yet clear, but seems to be related to an ICAO safety audit that is currently taking place – as most of the suspensions got published by Notam half-way through their visit.

What does this mean for operations?

It means you might want to see what is available at alternate airports, because many approaches might not be and that could turn out to be a nasty surprise for pilots.

Beyond that, it is not currently clear why they are being suspended – whether audit findings suggest safety issues, or if some are due to problems with power outages and intermittent signals.

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