SA Airways appoints first black chief pilot

27 May 2014

Captain Eric Manentsa has been appointed as the first black chief pilot at South African Airways. The announcement was made last Wednesday by then Public Enterprises Minister – now Home Affairs Minister – Malusi Gigaba.

Manentsa’s appointment, effective as of 1 June, follows the retirement of Captain Johnny Woods as chief pilot and head of flight operations. Gigaba described the appointment as a proud moment for the airline and a milestone for the country as it celebrated 20 years of democracy.

As the chief pilot, Manentsa will be responsible for the day-to-day functioning of the airline’s 800 pilots, ensuring that the company remains compliant to local and international regulations.

Manentsa has been flying for South African Airways (SAA) for 20 years and has been the fleet captain on the airline’s A319/A320 fleet for the past six years. He has 30 years of experience in aviation in South Africa and has amassed over 14 000 flying hours to date.

After obtaining his commercial licence in 1987, he worked for the Department of Transport in the former Ciskei, and for the Department of Defence while completing officer and junior command staff courses at the South African Air Force College.

He joined SAA in 1994 as an in-flight relief pilot on the Boeing 747 for nine months before flying as a first officer on the Boeing 737 on SAA’s domestic and regional network. He also flew the Airbus A320s, and when these were phased out he flew as senior first officer on the Airbus A340s.

Manentsa played a prominent role in the formation of the original SAA Cadet Pilot Programme, and was also a key figure in the airline’s efforts towards to transform the flight deck.