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Aviation Insurance
Sunday, October 1, 2006
Flights of fancy

There has been a lot written about African safety and the lack of it. I think most commentators recognise that South Africa does pretty well even by first world standards, and, strangely, Ethiopia has an excellent reputation for its airline safety.

One commentator makes the remark, - surely if poor Ethiopia, which has absolutely nothing for its citizens without huge external aid, can run a first class airline, why can’t the other states?
One of the problems identified is that although the UN through agencies like ICAO spend zillions of dollars on training and upliftment so often the money just disappears, often reappearing in Swiss Bank accounts. The problems apply equally to aircraft and Airports and Traffic Control. For any of these aspects it is still a perilous journey to travel through Africa.
In one fatal crash there was an AN-12 4-engined turboprop owned in the DRC and coming out of Uganda. It was 6,5 tons over MTOW!! In addition it was uninsured (not surprising) and there were no maintenance records nor crew training records. Nothing new here – we have had several incidents involving the same type of aircraft with no records and almost certainly un-airworthy. Somehow Africa couldn’t care less and makes no effort to check on the viability or even legality of foreign aircraft using local facilities. Perhaps a few high power actions for damages against the locals might wake the authorities up. Sure as history there won’t be any point in trying to sue the operators.
The AU has to take a hard stand on corruption and incompetence. It is significant that at a recent ICAO safety seminar involving some 153 states, eight African states and two Latin American did not want any transparency in the safety issues in their areas as it might harm their airlines and tourism. In the face of such blatant selfishness what can one say?
Mark you the UK is not without its problems when it was found that quite deliberately ATC had quite happily routed an aircraft with a declared in flight emergency right across central London, instead of moving it into a less populated route.
The Yanks have problems too – in spite of numerous problems with SIRO – simultaneous intersecting runway operations - the FAA has still to take action. There was an incident at Chicago where a B747 had to reject a take-off due to a problem at the intersection - 10 burst tyres later (and you know what they cost!) the FAA was asked to do a risk assessment but so far nix. By Henry Tours.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:19.5 1st October, 2006
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