[UPDATED] FlySafair puts statement about aircraft incident behind pay-wall

  • FlySafair hasn’t noted an incident at the weekend involving FA212 on its official press portal or social media.
  • Instead, the airline directs users to a statement located on News24 which is locked behind a paywall.
  • Thankfully, all passengers are safe and no injuries were sustained from the incident.

UPDATE: 23/04/2024

The full statement from FlySafair was emailed to Hypertext this morning. It follows below, without a paywall.

Flight FA212 Return to Johannesburg – 21 April 2024

21 April 2024 – FlySafair regrets to confirm that flight FA212 from Johannesburg to
Cape Town was required to return to Johannesburg following a concern regarding
damage to a wheel during take-off.

FA212 departed OR Tambo International Airport on schedule at 11:32AM. Departure
and take-off were normal and the crew set course for Cape Town.
After takeoff, ground staff at OR Tambo reported witnessing what appeared to be
damage to one of the aircraft back wheels. The crew were alerted to the observation
and the decision was taken to return to Johannesburg.

Flight FA212 adjusted course back for Johannesburg and entered a holding pattern
near Parys in order to burn off some fuel to lighten the aircraft for landing. This is
standard procedure when there is no urgency to land, as it’s safer to land with a
lighter fuel load, and modern Boeing 737 aircraft do not have the facility to dump

Before landing, the aircraft made a low pass over OR Tambo so that safety and
technical teams could inspect the landing gear visually before the final landing. The
aircraft passed overhead at approximately 13:20, and observers confirmed that one
of the four rear wheels had come adrift during the takeoff roll. The wheel affected
was one of the two attached to the left rear landing strut.
The aircraft proceeded into a second holding pattern over Centurion to burn away
remaining fuel before their final landing approach.

Modern aircraft are equipped with several redundancies and are able to land with a
missing tyre. The aircraft landed safely back at OR Tambo International Airport at
02:06PM. Response vehicles were activated to greet the plane as a precautionary
measure. After landing, the aircraft was inspected by safety and engineering teams
on the runway before the plane was brought back to the terminal.
Customers will be transferred to a waiting backup aircraft to proceed to Cape Town.
The nature and cause of the tyre damage are under investigation by the relevant
technical teams and authorities, and we await further details from their investigations
of the aircraft and runway.

“We extend our thanks to our customers for their patience and understanding
through this process and to our crews both on the ground and in the air for managing
this issue with the utmost control and care, exemplifying our commitment to safety
above all else” says Kirby Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer at FlySafair.

Original story:

Sunday was quite the day for passengers aboard a FlySafair flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, not that you’d know about it unless you were online on Sunday morning or have your X timeline set to For You.

While taking off, ground staff at OR Tambo International Airport spotted damage to flight FA212’s rear tyre. After the flight crew was informed, the aircraft returned to the airport nearly two hours later according to reports.

Despite the damaged tyre, the passengers and crew all landed safely with no injuries reported. Many on social media have praised the crew and pilot for ensuring that the passengers returned to the ground safely but we have to make mention of an issue here.

FlySafair has not made a statement available to the public. Instead, it directs South Africans to a News24 article. As you may be aware, access to News24 articles is dependent on a subscription.

As the commenter in the X thread above states, FlySafair hasn’t published any sort of official statement about the incident on its X profile or any other social media channels.

What about the airline’s press office? That too is devoid of any statement, the last being from 20th February 2024 about interior designs.

We contacted FlySafair on X and we were directed to the paywalled article. When asked why the statement was put behind a paywall, the person operating the account under the moniker BC, was confused as to why the article was behind a paywall. We have emailed FlySafair to find out why it wasn’t aware articles on News24 are behind a paywall.

The silence from the firm and its direction to a pay-walled statement is incredibly alarming given the state of air travel at the moment.

Earlier this year, the spotlight was placed on Boeing after a cabin panel detached from an Alaskan Airlines journey, mid-flight. Earlier this month a whistleblower urged the manufacturer to ground every 787 Dreamliner owing to the a number of concerns they had.

“The entire fleet worldwide, as far as I’m concerned right now, needs attention. And the attention is, you need to check your gaps and make sure that you don’t have potential for premature failure,” Boeing engineer, Sam Salehpour told NBC.

The aircraft manufacturer was seemingly unperturbed by this warning.

“We are fully confident in the 787 Dreamliner because of the comprehensive work done to ensure the quality and long-term safety of the aircraft. These claims about the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate,” Boeing said.

FlySafair messed up here. The firm should have – and still can – place it’s statement on its social channels for everybody to read instead of leaning on Media24 and its pay-walled articles as a way to keep this incident from spreading unabated.

We understand that reputationally, this is bad and with so few airlines left in South Africa, it’s understandable that a company would want to downplay an incident involving an aircraft flying its livery.

But sweeping this under the rug in this way only serves to make FlySafair look like it wants South Africa to forget that this incident even happened. See, their planes have interior designs made by locals guys, don’t worry about thorough inspections and the technical stuff.

While we suspect that FlySafair had its customer’s best interests at heart and all precautions were taken, we can’t say for sure because we don’t have a News24 subscription.

Silence is becoming an alarming trend in South Africa. Anecdotally speaking we have to wait upwards of 24 hours for statements from companies and when we receive these statements, all too often are they hollow and devoid of much information. This is worse when dealing with the local arm of an international firm such as Uber where requests need to go through several layers of employees before reaching the intended person.

We really need more transparency from local companies, and not just when lawmakers and authorities come knocking for answers.

Do better FlySafair.


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