23 January 2006
Africa’s aviation regulators are set to take action against airlines and operators on the continent that violate air safety measures, says African Civil Aviation Commission head Tshepo Peege.
A global air safety audit recently identified safety problems at 181 African airlines and operators, while several air crashes in 2005 put the spotlight on air safety on the continent.
Peege, president of the African Civil Aviation Commission – an African Union aviation regulator – told journalists in Pretoria last week that the commission would reassess the standards of these airlines and operators and help them put safety measures in place.
“We are going to take strong action against airlines that violate civil aviation safety initiatives, not to embarrass or shame them but to say: ‘put your house in order’,” Peege said.
The commission will revisit the 181 airlines and operators before an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) meeting in Montreal, Canada in March, where global aviation bosses are to map out a plan to improve safety worldwide.
World air safety, particularly in Africa, came under scrutiny in 2005 after a number of aircraft crashes resulted in the deaths of thousands of passengers. There were two crashes in Nigeria alone last year.
Ageing aircraft, lack of maintenance and technical faults were among the factors blamed for the crashes.
Peege said that to improve aviation safety in Africa, more money had to be invested in aviation infrastructure and the training of staff. “Funds that are generated from aviation have to be invested back in aviation infrastructure,” he said.
He urged smaller airlines and countries that lacked the necessary expertise or capability to regulate and oversee civil aviation to forge alliances with and seek assistance from others.
“We are saying to smaller countries and airlines that if you do not have the capability and ability to provide safe aviation services, seek help from neighbouring countries,” Peege said.
More focus would also be placed on Western-built aircraft, Peege added, as most of the aircraft involved in the accidents were Soviet-built.