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SAA denies fake plane parts claims after Mango flight's air turn-back

This comes after the _Sunday Times_ on Sunday reported that a Mango Boeing nosedived during a flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town in September.

FILE: SAA said the flight in the reported incident experienced technical difficulties that resulted in an air turn-back, saying that the incident had limited impact on passengers. Picture: Mango Airlines official Facebook page.

JOHANNESBURG - South African Airways (SAA) has come out to defend itself from media claims that it was using fake parts when servicing aircraft belonging to Mango Airlines or any other airline it services.

This comes after the Sunday Times on Sunday reported that a Mango Boeing nosedived during a flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town in September.

The publication reported that a preliminary report showed a defective replacement motor with a service history that "could not be determined with certainty".

The state-owned entity on Thursday said it wished to assure customers that all components and parts were procured from approved suppliers and all supporting documentation complied with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) requirements on components.

It strongly denied claims that it was being supplied with dodgy aircraft parts or components.

“Whilst any acts of criminality cannot be ruled out, it is untrue that there is a known international crime syndicate that has infiltrated SAA or SAAT that is responsible for tender manipulation and/or corruption at SAA or SAAT. There is no link, direct or indirect, between the aircraft incident involving the Mango flight reported on and matters that are currently under investigation at SAAT.”

SAA said the flight in the incident reported by the Sunday Times, which took place on 2 September 2019, experienced technical difficulties that resulted in an air turn-back, saying that the incident had limited impact on passengers.

Instead, it said the flight experienced a "minor jolt, akin to driving through a pothole."

“The cause of the air turn-back related to a component failure. The part, a stabiliser trim motor, failed during the climb of the flight to its planned cruise altitude. After levelling off in the cruise the crew’s attention was drawn to a “stab out of trim” condition. This simply notifies the crew that the autopilot is maintaining the flight condition, but that the aircraft is not trimmed correctly. The crew read the checklist, which very simply instructs them to hold the control column and disconnect the autopilot, which they complied with.

“The aircraft component that failed on the Mango flight of 2 September 2019, was legitimately procured from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of Boeing 737-800 aircraft. SAAT received the part from the manufacturer on 5 August 2019. It was fitted on Mango’s aircraft on 7 August 2019 and failed after 96 flights and 125 hours of operation.”

SAA said it was awaiting feedback from the OEM – to whom the failed component has been returned to establish the cause of the component failure and was providing the required assistance to the SACAA in progressing their investigation.

Sunday Times also reported that SAA and the Hawks' sources said those who were being investigated included US and French aviation supply and maintenance companies, including staff in the country.

The publication further claimed that it was in possession of a document that revealed that aircrafts parts worth R25 million disappeared from SAA technical stores while forensic investigators were finalising their report. The memorandum reportedly said the missing parts showed that this was an inside job.

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