The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has announced the introduction of card licences for aviation personnel, which replace the current booklets that are used to identify personnel licence holders. The move by the aviation regulator makes South Africa one of the pioneering countries that have replaced the passport-like licences with the wallet size, credit card type. The new card licences will be available as from 03 May 2021.
“It is clear that our nation’s commitment to ultimately eradicate the use of paper has found appropriate
and necessary expression in the development of the card licence we are unveiling today. It is also clear
as shown by research that environmental considerations and policies can ultimately influence
technological innovation,” said the Honourable Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi (MP)
who delivered the keynote address during the launch event.
The new and nifty card is convenient, simpler, safer, and more environmentally friendly. This is
according to Ms Poppy Khoza, who leads the SACAA as Director of Civil Aviation (CEO). “The new card licence comes with security features that will make it difficult to replicate and also prevent the ability to counterfeit, alter or modify the information on it. What is more, there is no need to worry about delays associated with a licence book that must be updated physically,” Khoza elaborated.
A simple scanning of the digitally secure 2D bar code allows access to real-time information anywhere
and anytime. All personnel information that will not be reflected visibly on the card such as type ratings,
medical status, expiry dates etc., can be accessed by scanning the back of the card. What must be
noted is that although the information can be accessed through a barcode, for security reasons, this
information cannot be downloaded.
“What this means is that as long as licence holders have a smartphone with a camera, they will be able
to download an app, called PDF 417, from the Play Store and iStore, and scan through the barcode.
Moreover, the SACAA has invested in a highly sophisticated redundancy site, that allows for the licence
holder’s information to be verified, even when the production environment is offline. I think that with all
these capabilities, we can call the card licence a smart card!” said Khoza.
Should the barcode malfunction, information can still be accessed via a web service portal.
The rollout of the card licence will take place through a phased approach, starting with the Private Pilot’s
Licence and Student Pilot’s Integrated Licence on 03 May 2021. The roll-out of the other licence
categories will be communicated via the SACAA website and our other online media platforms. The card
licence will be rolled out for all licensed personnel categories, and not only flight crew licences. Aviation
security screeners are also set to receive the card “A card licence will be issued upon submission of the application for either a new licence or renewal of the competency of a licence, once their category of licence is rolled out. However, it should be noted that the current booklet licences will remain valid until the expiry date, or when it is due for renewal when the licence holder will be issued with the new card type licence. The fees will remain the same, although the fees for some licences will be charged once for a two-year validity period, instead of one year,” Khoza explained.
The requirements when applying for a card licence will remain exactly the same as the booklet, except that applicants need to bring a passport-sized photograph, preferably in colour, with them; and when sending it electronically, the photograph should be in high definition.
“It is well known that any investment into technology infrastructure pays off in innumerable ways, simplifying processes, reducing the cost of business and offering excellent service. The launch of the card licence moves the SACAA one step forward towards achieving its goal of achieving a fully integrated Information and Communications Technology system that will enhance our service offering to the civil aviation industry. At the centre of these ambitious projects was the deliberate and intentional will to improve the experiences of our customers when doing business with us. This has been a long but worthwhile journey and one we intend to pursue until the SACAA is identified not just as the best-performing institution but also as one with superior customer service,” Khoza concluded. licences in due course.