St Helena Government today confirms that further safety and operational work is required prior to the Official Opening of the Island’s new Airport – and that this event has therefore been postponed. While this means that the Airport will not officially open on 21 May 2016 as originally planned, the safety of aircraft and passengers is of course paramount.

Last week the Island’s Air Service Provider, Comair, brought a Boeing 737-800 aircraft to St Helena on an ‘Implementation Flight’. The crew was able to gather real time information on the conditions at St Helena’s new Airport to assist in preparations for the commencement of scheduled air services. The objectives of the Implementation Flight included route assessment, airside operations, passenger and cargo handling, training and various aspects of safety at St Helena Airport.

One outcome of the Implementation Flight has been the gathering of additional data on turbulence and windshear on the approach to Runway 20 (from the North). As a result of the data gathered and the conditions experienced, it has been decided that there is some additional work to be done in order to ensure the safe operation of scheduled passenger flights to and from St Helena Airport.

Windshear refers to a change in wind speed or direction, including a rapid change over a short distance. Difficult wind conditions, including turbulence and windshear, are encountered and safely managed at many airports around the world.

All parties are now working hard to get a better understanding of how windshear conditions can be mitigated at St Helena Airport – assessing what measures need to be taken to ensure the safety of incoming aircraft landing on Runway 20. Everyone involved remains committed to commencing commercial flights to and from St Helena at the earliest possible opportunity.

SHG – working with all parties – has taken the decision to postpone the planned Official Opening Ceremony until a solution is found to manage this important safety issue.

The Official Opening of St Helena Airport will now take place at a later date which has yet to be determined.

The public will be kept informed as this work progresses.

26 April 2016


Posted on 27 April 2016
Filed Under Uncategorised | 7 Comments



  1. Lee Oldershaw on April 27th, 2016 1:48 pm

    I thought the second approach and landing was under control and well done. The change in crosswind on approach was predicted before the airport was built. There will always be wind shear and turbulence there unless you move the island and command the wind to stop. The turbulence and wind shear is predictable. Train the pilots for it.
    Long retired airline Captain.

  2. Eur Ing Dr Hugh Wynne PEng on April 28th, 2016 12:28 am

    Saint Helena is unusually remote from substantial emergency responses, so that what may look like greater-than-usual attention to detail regarding accident avoidance should be welcomed, particularly for larger aircraft. The time & trouble taken now will provide greater safety, comfort, & confidence in future operations.

  3. Capt. Theo Truter on April 28th, 2016 4:24 am

    Agreed about the training, which already is conducted to high standards. There are often similar conditions at South African coastal airport’s. Approved crosss-wind speed limits are already stated by the aircraft manufacturer. Now comes the real research to determine the wind-shear patterns on that runway.

  4. Martin Brandt on April 28th, 2016 7:55 am

    Maybe SHG should invite Safair for an implementation flight from Walvis bay with one of there Hercules L100-30?

  5. Tow Muc on April 29th, 2016 12:02 pm
  6. Lee Oldershaw on April 29th, 2016 4:20 pm

    Unanticipated wind shear associated with convective ( thunderstorm ) activity is dangerous. The type of permanent wind shear at St. Helena should be within the capabilities of appropriately trained pilots and the vast capabilities of the Boeing 737-800. I think that planning fuel for two approaches to St. Helena instead of one before diverting to Ascension would be an adequate response to the problem. A third approach would accomplish little and is regarded in the industry as the one you crash on. The first one you learn from, the second you do your best and anything more than that is risky.

  7. Thies on May 21st, 2016 4:10 am

    Maybe the whole airport (including runway) should have been built indoors ?

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