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Aviation accidents decline across Africa

Aviation accidents across Africa may have declined in 2011, but the continent remains top of the global accident league.

Statistics from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) have shown a significant drop in air accidents in African airlines between 2010 and 2011

There were eight accidents across the continent, 10 less than 2010, but still considerably higher than on other continents.

“The challenge with African countries is that they hire cheap, non-compliant aircraft, with no proper records,” said Ignie Igunduura of the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority.

The number of accidents on Western-built jets, however, declined by 39 per cent in 2011.

It was against this backdrop that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) organised a three-day conference in late March in Kampala, which attracted more than 250 delegates from member nations.

Among the aviation bodies to attend the Regional Air Safety Conference were the African Civil Aviation Commission, the Agency for Safety of Air Navigation in Africa and Madagascar, the African-Indian Ocean Regional Monitoring Agency, IATA and the European Commission.

IATA noted that Africa’s problems were complex and included insufficient government oversight and lack of infrastructure.

The conference came at a time when the African continent was considered a hot spot in the global aviation sector despite the fact that in 2009 Africa had the worst accident rate in the world.

According to a recent report on world aircraft accidents by IATA, Africa’s Western-built jet losses per million surged from 2.32 in 2008 to an alarming 6.62 in 2009. In contrast, the overall regional accident rates for the world decreased from an average of 0.92 in 2008 to 0.57 in 2008.

Africa’s accident rate was more than twice that of the Middle East, which ranked as the second worst offender and was six times greater than the third worst area, Australasia/Pacific.

Statistics obtained from the Flight Safety Foundation indicated that between 2000 and 2009 a total of 91 aircraft accidents occurred in Africa, of which 26 were in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 14 in Sudan, eight in Kenya, seven in Nigeria, six in Angola, three each in Egypt and Gabon, and 24 in the other countries.

The DRC and Sudan accounted for 44 per cent of all the fatal accidents on the continent in the ten-year period, with the top five countries (DRC, Sudan, Angola, Kenya and Nigeria) accounting for more than 67 per cent of all accidents on the continent.

Mwangi Mumero

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