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According to some unknown author: “A mile of highway will take you a mile, a mile of runway will take you anywhere”, and in this case the sky is the limit.

The commercial general aviation sector’s potential to support the expansion of South African trade and investment into other parts of the African continent, to contribute towards greater economic integrations within the sub-Saharan region and to assist with the development of the tourism sector, both locally and regionally, should not be underestimated.

According to a CAASA commissioned study compiled by Mr Keith Lockwood, it is estimated that the non-scheduled commercial aviation sector could have given rise to economy-wide sales of close to R 46 billion, directly employed around 11,000 people and supported 39,000 employment opportunities in 2014.

Based upon the CAASA Aviation Activity Index, as recently launched by Dr Roelof Botha, on-behalf of CAASA, the commercial aviation economic activity in South Africa is alive and well, and outperformed most other sectors of the economy by a considerable margin. The Index increased by more than 55% between the first quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2016. In comparison, the country’s GDP only increased by 9.8% over the same period.

At the same time, the sector faces some challenges. These arise primarily from failure of policy- makers to recognise the sector’s economic and strategic importance, or to understand its structure and constraints, leading to policy proposals that could be damaging to its commercial viability and long term growth potential.

It is not difficult to recognise that South Africa is facing four major challenges, namely: growth in un-employment, critical skills shortages, almost zero percent growth in the economy and political instability.

In my view, we are not doing enough to resolve these issues. By replacing already employed individuals does not resolve un-employment, and only slightly contributes towards transformation. Investment in regional and local manufacturing, training, maintenance and other aviation facilities as well as funding projects such as SARA, with a medium to long term growth and employment potential, may lead to more employment opportunities, grow the economy and positively contribute towards transformation.

Unfocussed training of individuals does little to reduce the critical skills shortages. As an example, apparently we currently have a huge amount of un-employed commercially licensed pilots, mainly because they have not accumulated enough hours to be employed and do not have funding to accumulate said hours.

Although TETA has recognised this dilemma and as far as can be determined funding of pilots can now also include funding of required hours to be employable, it seems as if the aviation industry is working in silo’s, without a common goal to sustain aviation for the future.

The theme for the CAASA 2016 AGM and Conference is “Growing Together” and we aim to concentrate mainly on what we as industry collaboratively need to do to ensure that our aviation industry will thrive in the future. We need to invest in the future of aviation. It is the responsibility of all of us and we need to do it now!

The Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA) has, as always, been part of various committees, forums and work groups, all of which have direct bearing on the mandate of CAASA – to promote and protect the interests of commercial general aviation in Southern Africa. CAASA further actively engages government and applicable departments along with other aviation stakeholders to resolve issues pertaining to its constituency. Participation in these activities remains relevant and CAASA will continue to serve the industry through these mechanisms.

Engaging with these role players, CAASA’s intention is to work closely with them to ultimately find reasonable and mutually acceptable solutions within safe frameworks.

CAASA currently has 212 members and welcomes our new members, looking forward to working closely together in a mutual effort to strengthen commercial general aviation in Southern Africa.

I believe that 2016 will be remembered as having been a very special for our association.  Following a top-level meeting between the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA) held on May 4 regarding the challenges the aviation industry was facing with the authority; it transpired that the SACAA was currently conducting a “reshuffling process” aimed specifically at resolving aviation-related issues.

Among those issues, was a list contained in a dossier given to the SACAA by the association outlining most of the challenges the industry was experiencing with the authority. This had been compiled following the CAASA’s annual meeting in November last year when members complained about the current state of affairs and requested that the association raise these issues with the authority as a matter of urgency.

This led to the May 4 meeting held to discuss these issues. The meeting was chaired by the Director of Civil Aviation. It became evident during the meeting that the authority’s representatives had come well prepared with solutions for most of the issues raised and showed sincere interest in involving the industry in the efforts to resolve aviation-related problems.

It was revealed, too, that the re-structuring process at the SACAA is specifically aimed at providing a better service to the industry, a factor which was well received by the CAASA delegation.

Regulatory amendments in terms of various challenges experienced by the industry are in process, but will follow the full promulgation process before implementation. Some of the proposed amendments have already been itemised and were discussed at the Civil Aviation Regulations Committee meetings.

A statement issued by CAASA after this last meeting highlighted that, although aviation entities would always have some challenges with the Civil Aviation Authority, the association had gained the impression that the authority was on the right track for closer cooperation with the industry.

The CAASA Operations Committee that we created in June 2016, resulted in various issues of members being resolved. I view this committee as being result driven and very successful. Each issue or complaint gets officially logged, processed and monitored. The mentioned log is available for viewing at the CAASA office if members are interested in all the issues we have resolved. Thank you to the large team of specialists involved in this Committee.

The Marketing Committee has been very active in the last few months and I would like to thank its members for their assistance in upgrading the Website, enhancing our social media capabilities and creating a Newsletter for CAASA to mention but a few of the ongoing activities.

I believe this Committee will play an extremely important role in promoting CAASA in the future.

The CAASA Foundation has been registered as a PBO on 1 November 2016. The foundation will support aviation initiatives, with specific emphasis on creating opportunities for historically disadvantaged entities.

CAASA has signed an MOU with Status Aviation with the specific aim of getting more involved in the training of aviation specialists through the Da Vince Institute. Students studying aviation subjects will be provided with mentorship through the CAASA network, whilst assisting CAASA with study papers and research on commercial aviation related issues.

The CAASA Affiliates have continued with business in their areas of expertise. CAASA is thankful for the participation of the Affiliate’s Executive Committees and their Presidents in assisting CAASA within their areas of expertise. CAASA also welcomes the Association of Aviation Design Organisations that has joined the CAASA family as an Affiliate.

During the period under review, CAASA has continued to support other aviation associations in their efforts to ensure a safe, yet realistic, application of policies, procedures, fees and regulations. Although not always in agreement, CAASA has a good working relationship with AASA, ALPA, the Aero Club of South Africa (AeCSA) and RAASA. CAASA thanks these entities for their ongoing support in the protection and promotion of aviation in South Africa.

CAASA is one of the sponsors of the Aviation Safety Campaign and the Mayday SA Project. CAASA will continue to support these initiatives in future.

During the year under review, the CEO was able to establish healthy links and relations with the media and was afforded the opportunity to be interviewed by various written, verbal and visual media entities to promote the association.

CAASA also implemented a new policy in terms of working with the media, which will enhance our image and ensure that statements to the media have realistic checks and balances.

The ninth edition of Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD2016) took place over the period of 14 to 18 September 2016 at Air Force Base Waterkloof in Centurion, South Africa. The AAD Executive Committee focused specifically on enhancing visitor experience, simplifying the accreditation process, marketing aiming to lure more international exhibitors and trade visitors to AAD and enhancing the management of the foreign VIP delegations. Although some challenges were experienced, over-all it was a success. The unsuspected increase in aviation entities participating in the event as exhibitors is a bonus and I hope we can increase the participation of these entities even more. A full report with detailed statistics is available on request.

CAASA is the lead partner for the 10th edition of AAD that will be hosted at the same venue in 2018. A full CAASA team has been identified to assist with the arrangements.

CAASA will continue to serve the interests of the Commercial General Aviation industry through attendance of the various aviation committees and forums and will always strive to improve on the service it provides to its constituency.

The growth of involvement of the CAASA Board and CAASA members with commercial general aviation issues has been tremendous over the past year and is highly appreciated.

I am delighted with the appointment of Mr Kevin Storie as the Operational Manager at CAASA. Kevin has already made a positive impact on CAASA activities and I believe his appointment will be beneficial to all CAASA members.

A word of welcome also to Me Sam Bower whom has recently been appointed as the Office Assistant at CAASA.

It will surely be a challenge for this association to manoeuvre within the constantly changing global and national environment, but I believe that CAASA has the ability to establish itself as the most reputable aviation association on the continent.

I thank all the CAASA members for their support over the past few years and look forward to the growth of the association over the next few years. CAASA is nothing without its members and our focus should not be what CAASA is doing for the industry, but rather what we collectively do to promote commercial general aviation.

CAASA- Your Aviation Portal.