Dear SAHPA members
The SAHPA committee is concerned about the growing controversy amongst members with regard to Incidents, Accidents and Fatalities. In the interests of transparency, we would like to clarify some of the issues being raised.
Jurisdiction over Accidents
Paragliders and hang-gliders are considered aircraft. The Civil Aviation Act includes the following definition: “aircraft” means any machine that can derive support in the atmosphere from the reactions of the air, other than the reactions of the air against the surface of the earth”
In South Africa, the Independent Aviation Safety Investigation Board (ASIB) is lawfully mandated, and has jurisdiction over all accidents involving aircraft, which includes paragliders and hang-gliders. An accident investigation is undertaken under the sole prevail of the IASB unless this responsibility is delegated to a suitably qualified third party.
SAHPA may not investigate accidents
Quite simply, SAHPA does not have jurisdiction to investigate aviation accidents. Should anyone within SAHPA take the initiative to investigate, we would be overstepping our boundaries and may be found guilty of an offence. This is also why the AIID formally appoints individuals from SAHPA to assist the AIID investigator to investigate PG and HG accidents.
Publishing Accident Reports
Furthermore, SAHPA is not permitted, or legally empowered to divulge any accident report or finding without written authorisation from AIID which:
• releases experts to provide information
• releases SAHPA to provide information or
• finalises an accident report.
SAHPA does not have authority to make any conclusion, express an opinion or present a report. Doing so could have serious legal ramifications for SAHPA and the volunteer committee members within SAHPA.
Over the years SAHPA has tried to negotiate with AIID to investigate on behalf of AIID (i.e. to be delegated) but this has not yet transpired.
There is an ongoing reluctance by members to report their incidents and accidents. We are aware of a number of pilots who have not submitted their incidents or accident reports.
In addition, we have a number of eye-witness reports which cannot be matched to incident reports. This has resulted in a bizarre situation whereby SAHPA is being criticised for silence on incidents and accidents which have not been reported.
Members have conflicting opinions on SAHPA’s role. Some members feel that SAHPA should present a polished image that paragliding and hang-gliding are perfectly safe sports. In contrast, other members feel that SAHPA has a responsibility to communicate every incident, accident and fatality to ensure that members can learn and grow from these experiences.
In light of the above-mentioned legal constraints, it is challenging to satisfy all members.
We have a web page for Press Releases (first published on 23 January 2020) where public notices are posted for serious accidents and fatalities. This page is primarily aimed at journalists and is deliberately void of detail, to deter speculation and sensationalism.
This page may be accessed at www.sahpa.co.za/press-releases.
Lastly, SAHPA is not a faceless corporation. It is a non-profit, membership organisation run by a committee of unpaid volunteer pilots who willingly, and in good faith, contribute their time and effort to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, improve regulations, enhance internal governance, promote the sport, and most importantly, improve safety.
We value feedback from members, and would like to invite pilots to please raise concerns with the committee.
The SAHPA Office