Forty of 46 grounded South African planes back in air

Credit: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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JOHANNESBURG, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Forty of the 46 airplanes grounded this week owing to faults at the maintenance unit of state-owned South African Airways (SAA) have been returned to service, South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) Chief Executive Poppy Khoza said on Thursday.

Khoza said SACAA had made five findings during its audit at SAA Technical, two of which were serious.

The two serious findings were that unqualified personnel had signed off on maintenance work and that maintenance checks on flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders had not been done correctly.

The other findings related to lapses in SAA Technical's quality management system and a failure to implement previous findings by the SACAA, Khoza said.

The SACAA has since accepted a "corrective action plan" from SAA Technical.

A lack of clarity earlier in the week over the faults found at SAA Technical had led to speculation from analysts that the regulator had found major infringements.

SAA Technical maintains aircraft for SAA, its subsidiary Mango Airlines and British Airways franchise partner Comair COMJ.J, which also operates under the brand.

Twenty-five SAA planes were grounded this week, 14 Comair planes and seven Mango Airlines planes, Khoza said.

SAA has not made an annual profit since 2011 and is dependent on government bailouts for its survival.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning Editing by Tim Cocks)

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