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Improving African Safety

Special Report - Safety

Africa remains a problem region for aviation safety. The hull loss rate in 2010 was 7.41 per million flights, better than the 9.94 in 2009 but still 12 times worse than the global average.

Put another way, African carriers account for 2% of global traffic but 23% of global Western-built jet hull losses.

The vast majority of the accidents involve non-IATA airlines and countries with poor oversight programs. In fact, non-IATA operators contributed 80% of Africa’s Western-built jet hull losses from 2008 to 2010. “But an accident is an accident,” says Guenther Matschnigg, IATA Senior Vice President for Safety, Operations, and Infrastructure. “It affects the whole industry.”

Improving safety in Africa is an ongoing commitment. The IATA funded Implementation Program for Safe Operations in Africa (IPSOA) ensured that flight data analysis tools are available to all IATA carriers in Africa, and routine workshops made certain that these carriers knew how to use the data effectively. 

Results from the FDAs have helped participating airlines reduce deviations from optimum flight trajectories by 56%. The top five airports with unstable approaches have also been identified. It proves the value of flight data analysis tools and all the data collected will help develop safety programs targeted at specific challenges.

“From 2008 to 2010, runway excursions remained the main concern of the region,” says Gaoussou Konate, Regional Director for IATA’s Safety, Operations and Infrastructure, Africa. “Out of 10 Western-built jet hull losses, seven were runway excursions. The effective use of FDA through IPSOA protected IATA members’ operations from this regional challenge.”

Two big pushes will benefit the region in 2012: new training techniques will be promoted at every opportunity to bring the region up to international standards, and IATA will integrate the IPSOA program into its Global Safety Information Center (GSIC), allowing all carriers in Africa to share flight data on a continent‑wide basis for the first time. A lot of African carriers are not IATA members and so getting governments involved is the most direct method of forcing through the improvements needed. Engaging with all stakeholders and areas of operations will create a virtuous cycle of sustainability.

Alongside this, work will continue on developing infrastructure. Funding improvements is a particular issue and IATA is working to have monies raised through user charges reinvested back into aviation infrastructure programs. IATA is also assisting with the rollout of performance-based navigation (PBN) in line with a 2007 ICAO resolution. Nigeria is the first West African country to embrace a PBN strategy that will cover 24 airports across the country.

IATA is working with key stakeholders to conduct an Aviation Safety Summit in May 2012 to get an agreement on a regional action plan to be implemented by airlines and states.

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