Safety First Aviator


Date: Thursday, 20 October 2022

Time: 19h00

Theme: Be Prepared! Changing of Seasons

Description:  Spring has arrived and Summer is fast approaching. It’s time for another instalment of the extremely popular Safety First Aviator webinar series, and this episode focuses on helpful tips and best practises for planning your flight as the weather patterns change as well as the dangers during the “Changing of Seasons”.

Join some well-known faces when Ari Levien will be diving deeper into fatigue management for pilots with some tips to assist with feeling more energised and Lauren Smith will give an insight into the seasonal outlook for the next couple of months. The webinar ends with Andre Roos presenting the important topic of what to expect “The Next Hour, after impact”

This FREE webinar is not to be missed and proudly co-presented by the Safety First Aviator team together with AERO South Africa.

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Date: Thursday, 31 March 2022

Time: 19h00

Theme: The Next Hour – Digging deeper into the pilot's plan 

Description:  2022 is in full swing and the Safety First Aviator team is proud to announce their new theme for the year: THE NEXT HOUR. Join the Safety First Aviator team and AERO South Africa for the second webinar of the year: Digging deeper into the pilot's plan.

We have three very familiar faces, who will be sharing tips, knowledge, and information with our pilots. Join Andre Roos an Aviation Risk Specialist. Lauren Smith, from Weather SA and owner of The Essential Pilot, Caroline Koll.

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Date: Thursday, 24 February 2022

Time: 19h00

Theme: Pre-Flight Pilot Safety - Planning for The Next Hour

Description:  2022 is in full swing and the Safety First Aviator team is proud to announce their new theme for the year: THE NEXT HOUR. Join the Safety First Aviator team and AERO South Africa for the first webinar of the year: Pre-Flight Pilot Safety - planning for The Next Hour.

We have three very familiar faces, who will be sharing tips, knowledge and information with our pilots. Join Ari Levien from MayDay-SA as he shares his views on the personal and mental states that need to be considered Pre-Flight. Lauren Smith, from Weather SA, will explain how and where to get weather briefings, prior to take-off. Owner of The Essential Pilot, Caroline Koll, will be sharing tips on how to look-out for the unexpected.  

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Date: Wednesday, 1 December 2022

Time: 19h00

Theme: How Pilots Manage Distractions 

Description: As we bid farewell to the year, many of us in the aviation industry are still battling post-pandemic fatigue. Entering the Festive Season means our pilots have to prepare before taking flight to their various holiday destinations. This webinar will offer tips on ways to minimise any form of distractions to ensure safe flights over the December month of Festivities. Join AERO South Africa and Safety First Aviator as they host a webinar on 'How Pilots can Manage Distractions'.

Our panelists require no introduction. Ari Levien from MayDay-SA, Caroline Koll, owner of Essential Pilot, our very own (and well known) ICAO SAR Expert Santjie White will be part of this informative webinar alongside Cobus Toerien of ALPA-SA. Our moderator for the webinar is Franz Smit from Pilot Insure.

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Date: Wednesday, 27 October 

Time: 19h00

Theme: Back to Flying under Challenging Conditions brought on by Covid-19 

Description: We know by now you are TIRED of hearing about Covid-19 and the new normal. However, a big question to ask is, how does the new normal look for the Aviation Industry? The safety of pilots is a big priority and in this webinar hosted by Safety First Aviator and AERO South Africa team, the focus will be on reshaping the future of Aviation into a sustainable and safe one.

We have lined up a panel of guest speakers (and one familiar face you'll recognise from previous webinars) - Andre Roos, an Aviation Risk Specialist, Claims and Accident Investigator, will discuss the dangers of Age-Related Cognitive Decline and will share tips on how to identify, know and mitigate Age-Related Cognitive Decline risks. Rhett Shillaw, also a new face on our panel, will share how a small change in your procedure may seem acceptable, but, if left unchecked, could prove disastrous. Ari Levien, our local representative from MayDay-SA, presents a basic method to be used by all to recognise and fight deviance.

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Date: Wednesday, 22 September 2021
Time: 19h00
Theme: Spring flying – Dust off the Rust!

Spring has officially arrived and it's time to "Dust off the Rust!". This is a call to all pilots - whether you are new to flying, or a seasoned pilot, to join our panel of experts as they offer professional advice on the most important things to keep in mind before flying an aircraft, as Spring has sprung.

Three familiar faces to the Safety First Aviator Webinar Series will be sharing valuable information and insights. Caroline Koll, owner of The Essential Pilot, will look at what you should do to get back into the spring of things - that is if you haven't flown in a while. The Pre-Flight Check will be the main focus for Cobus Toerien representing ALPA-SA. He will be sharing tips on Pre-Flight Springtime checks, whether you own an aircraft or hire one - especially important when new seasons with different weather patterns approach. Santjie White, our resident ICAO SAR Expert will guide you on when to ask for help, and where to get it.

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Date: Thursday, 26 August 2021
Time: 19h00
Theme: Pilots! What do you think about before take-off?

"What do you think",
are the 4 most important words you should say to students/crew members before departure. This burning question has plagued many before takeoff - and we are going to discuss it!

Probably one of the most important SFA webinars up to now, this one is not to be missed. We have a well-versed panel of experts who are ready to make this interactive panel discussion one of the best yet. Our panelists will open up the floor to ignite questions from the attendees, encouraging their involvement in the panel discussion.

Our panelists require no introduction. Ari Levien from MayDay-SA, Lauren Smith from the SA Weather Service, Santjie White and Caroline Koll will be a part of this exciting webinar alongside Cobus Toerien and our moderator Franz Smit.

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Date: Thursday, 29 July 2021
Time: 19h00
Theme: Defining your limitations as a pilot

A GT (great truth) in flying has always been: “Know your aircraft and your own limitations!

Aircraft limitations are easy to find in a manual, but how do you, the Pilot, define your own personal limitations? 

Yes, the law says one thing, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be more conservative with our personal limitations. This is very often over looked and more experienced pilots might say, ‘go, you'll be fine!’ But, will that be safe for you? Join AERO South Africa and the Safety First Aviator Team as Caroline Koll, Santjie White, Ari Levien and Lauren Smith share first hand tips with our Pilots.

*Our speakers for the webinar are no strangers to the aviation industry. You saw them before in the previous webinar where they shared their insights on how to be resilient during the Covid-19 third wave. Join them again for this exciting Live webinar.


Previous SFA Webinars:  

Date: Thursday, 27 May 2021
Time: 19h00
Theme: Calling all Aviators to Stabilise Your Approach

Join the Safety First Aviator and AERO South Africa team as we take Aviators back to the basics by bringing together a team of General Aviation specialists to assist Pilots to ensure they are Resilient with the Covid-19 third wave fast approaching. This webinar will share tips for students new to flying as well as our seasoned pilots, with valuable information from our industry experts.

We are privileged to get our information first hand from Caroline Koll, sharing tips on ‘Stabilising your Approach’, as she digs deeper into stable approaches for the GA VFR pilot. “Stabilising your Approach” is also symbolic of stabilising one’s own personal approach to landings, developing an attitude where going around is a pre-determined decision.

Caroline will be joined by Santjie White from SASAR focusing on night flying and SAR. Ever wondered where to get your aviation weather report? Lauren Smith from SA Weather Service will explain the basics and show you where to access this information. Ari Levien, our representative from MayDay-SA will share his view on the effect Social Media has on a Pilot’s mental health. Franz Smit, from Pilot Insure, will moderate the webinar and keep the discussion going.

Date: Wednesday, 21 April 2021
Time: 19h00
Theme: Now you are airborne, how do you keep it safe?

Your aircraft engine is humming in perfect working order, you are safely airborne, BUT what now? How do you keep it safe? Join the Safety First Aviator and AERO South Africa team for the 6th instalment of the webinar series with the main theme “PROP Clear”. 

The Safety First Aviator webinars in February and March focused on resilience, mental awareness and mental wellbeing, taking into consideration the “perfect storm” Covid-19 has created for pilots, we also touched on checklists to ensure you are ready to take flight and now we are taking it a step further and pointing out that you also have to Look AT Yourself.

Join Cobus Toerien from ALPA-SA as he recaps on the SFA themes thus far, from Hazardous Attitudes; Your Approach to SafetyAirmanship and all the issues mentioned over the time period from 2016 to present. Ari Levien from MayDay-SA will share the habits of an  effective pilot and Lauren Smith from South Africa Weather Service will look at in-flight weatherSantjie White from the SASAR will discussing the little things we have forgotten whilst we were grounded for so long. Franz Smit, from PilotInsure, will moderate this webinar. 


Date: Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Time: 19h00

Theme: Getting back to Flying during the Covid-19 pandemic: From "IMC to VFR” Are you ready?

Following on the webinar hosted on 25 February 2021, join AERO South Africa and the Safety First Aviator team, as we give guidance to pilots on getting back to flying safely, focusing on resilience with the 2020/2021 campaign of "Prop Clear".

Covid-19 is not going to disappear in the near future, so pilots have started looking at ways to get their engines running again, BUT they need to ensure their safety when taking flight: IMC to VFR.

Join us for this informative webinar where our speakers Cobus Toerien (ALPA-SA), Santjie White (South African Search and Rescue), Lauren Smith (South African Weather Service) and Ari Levien  (MayDay-SA) continue the discussion and delve into challenges and solutions to give pilots guidance on the elements of moving from bad conditions to better conditions, weathering the storm we find ourselves in. The webinar will be moderated by Franz Smit from Pilot Insure.


Covid-19 creating a 'Perfect Storm' leading to Aircraft Accidents

Date: Thursday, 25 February 2021

Time: 19h00

Theme: Covid-19 creating a 'Perfect Storm' leading to Aircraft Accidents

The Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for more than a year and 2021 started off with more aircraft accidents than in the past. Now is the time to discuss ways to prevent accidents and to ensure mental fitness prior to taking flight, ensuring all safety measures are in place for your flight. The 2020/2021 theme for Safety First Aviator Campaign is Prop Clear with this webinar’s main focus on Covid-19 creating a 'Perfect Storm' leading to Aircraft Accidents.

It brought about a lot of uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and fatigue during lock down, as well as a lack in competencies, aircraft on the ground, maintenance and support issues. Everything is a bit Rusty.

So, what now? How do we as Pilots make a difference? Resilience through Compliance!

Join us for this informative webinar where Cobus Toerien (ALPA-SA), Santjie White (South African Search and Rescue), Lauren Smith (South African Weather Service) and Keith Cunningham (MayDay-SA) will delve into the challenges, solutions to give pilots guidance for Safety and Compliance during these uncertain times. Franz Smit, from Pilot Insure will moderate the webinar.



Theme: Safety First Aviator - Fatigue Risk Management

Date: Thursday, 19 November 2020

Time: 19h00


The 2020/2021 theme of "Prop Clear", ensuring that engines are ready for take-off, following the Covid-19 Lockdown. The underlying theme for the campaign is "Resilience", focused on how we will adapt to the change and the "new normal" to ensure flight safety in preventing accidents.

As part of this third installment in the series of SFA webinars, Wynand Serfontein will be focusing on personal fatigue management and how fatigue impacts the daily decision-making process and impact the quality of the decisions we make. He will cover some strategies to manage personal fatigue to assist Aviation Safety. Ari Levien will share recent statistics from Mayday-SA that indicates how COVID-19 is currently impacting aviators and touching on how Mayday-SA can provide support in dealing with the stressful time that aviation is experiencing at present. Carl Bollweg looks forward to discussing the ALPA-SA proposal for amendment of part 121.02.13 which covers the Flight and Duty Period Scheme.

Theme: Safety First Aviator

Date: Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Time: 18h00

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The 2020/2021 theme of "Prop Clear", ensuring that engines are ready for take-off, following the Covid-19 Lockdown. The underlying theme for the campaign is "Resilience", focused on how we will adapt to the change and the "new normal" to ensure flight safety in preventing accidents.

Join Cobus as he digs deeper into accident prevention through resilience, Santjie will discuss Search and Rescue tips for getting back safely in the air, and Lauren will assist in using the South African Weather Service website to ensure safe flying times." Cindy will share details on the topics covered in the MayDay SA "Caring During Covid" campaign and will inform aviators the process to follow in order to contact them for support.


  • Cobus Toerien - ALPA SA
  • Santjie White - SASAR
  • Lauren Smith - SA Weather Services
  • Cindy Bessel - MayDay SA
  • Franz Smit - Pilot Insure (Moderator)


Date: 26 August 2020

Time: 18h00

Theme: Safety First Aviator

Celebrating the launch of the AERO South Africa Virtual Marketplace, AERO South Africa is proud to present its first webinar "Safety First Aviator" with the theme ‘Prop Clear’

The Safety First Aviator [SFA] webinar launches the SFA Campaign for 2020 / 2021. The theme for this year is “PROP CLEAR”, indicating ready for engine start, thus back to flying following the Covid-19 lock down. The underlying theme for the campaign will be ‘Resilience’; how we can adapt to change and manage the ‘new normal’ in order to ensure Flight Safety and as such accident prevention.

A focus point during this discussion will be to introduce some of the team members and to explain WHY the team behind Safety First Aviation do what they do, HOW they plan to achieve this and WHAT they plan to do in order to promote Aviation Safety in the Industry.

Safety First Aviator Speakers: 

Santjie White


Santjie White has been involved the Search and Rescue industry for 26 years as is currently the Chief of the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre.

Lauren Smith


Lauren Smith is a meteorologist based in the Cape Town weather office, with a big passion towards Aviation and the weather forecasting. Has been part of the campaign for 4 years now, and is honoured to be part of such a positive team.

Carl Bollweg


Qualified for SAAF wings in July 1983. SAAF postings included 42 Squadron (Bosbok), CFS Dunnottar (Harvard), 84 LAFS (C185), 81 LAFS (C172 and BE58) and 41 Squadron (C208). Carl, joined Comair in November 1993. He then moved to SAA in September 2000, he is currently ALPA-SA president and IFALPA RVP AFI South region.

Cobus Toerien


Joined the Air Force in 1974 and after completing training on Harvard, Impalas and a B.Mil degree, completed operational flying tours at 8 Squadron [Impalas] and 3 Squadron [Mirage F1CZ], with a total of 168 Combat Missions and the Air Force Cross.

Qualified in Aviation Safety, Aircraft Accident Investigation, Pilot and Pilot Attack Instructor and completed the Senior Command and Staff Course to become the Officer Commanding 2 Squadron, the "Flying Cheetahs." Completed my Air Force career as a Colonel with a total of  4 500 hours, of which 2 000 on Supersonic types.

Joined South African Airways in 1999 as an Accident Investigator, before being appointed as the Flight Safety Manager and as a CRM facilitator. In 2004  commenced flying on the Boeing 738, Airbus 330 / 340 till retirement in February 2019, with a total of 12 000 flying hours.

Joined the Airline Pilots Association in 2015 as the Chairman of the Accident Analysis and Prevention Committee and since 2019 as the Technical Director as well. Representing ALPA on the National Safety First Aviator Campaign since 2016, whilst now 'freelancing' as an Aviation Safety / SMS / CRM facilitator and advisor.

Neil de Lange


Following his studies in electrical engineering, Neil worked as a technician and systems analyst at MITTAL steel (Then ISCOR). (1989 – 1999)

Neil obtained his first pilot license in 1993 flying microlights.

After running his flight school for three years in 1998, he identified structural and systemic deficiencies in the aviation regulatory regime; he joined the Board of the Aero Club of South Africa with the view to influence change to the legislative and administrative arrangement.

In order to better qualify himself for this new challenge, Neil enrolled with the University of South Africa to further his studies in law.

In 2008, during his tenure as General Manager of the Aero Club of SA and with the support of its Board Neil form part of the team establishing Recreation Aviation Administration SA (RAASA). A non-profit company he heads up until 2019.

 In 2014 Neil compiles the manuscript “Concept and History of Designation – the Highway to Effective Self-Governance”, a guide on performing designated function.

Currently Neil is employed by the SACAA as Senior Manager – General Aviation. A challenge he gladly accepts.

Damon Brown


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