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AFRAA wants tougher action over breach of air safety rules

African states are failing to put in place policies to ensure proper air navigation surveillance services for aircraft departing and landing in their airports, which makes air rescue services more difficult, aviation experts said Monday.

The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) Secretary General Christian Folly-Kossi told aviation experts meeting here that African states must be put on their toes to improve on aviation safety, especially the lack of critical aviation safety equipment.

Citing the Kenya Airways plane crash, which occurred in Douala, Cameroon on 5 May, 2007, the AFRAA chief said it was regrettable that it took more than 24 hours to locate a plane that crashed only five kilometres away from the runway.

The Kenya Airways lost its commercial aircraft, a Boeing 737, with 114 passengers on board plus crew members shortly after the plane left the Douala international airport.

It took more than 48 hours before the Cameroonian authorities could locate the aircraft and its passengers.

The delay in locating the crash site was blamed for the high number of casualties.

In a similar incident in Lagos, Nigeria, it took the authorities more than 24 hours to locate the wreckage of a plane which had crashed very close to the point of takeoff.

“Most of the time, passengers who could have survived the accident would perish because of the state’s poor safety and rescue systems,” Folly-Kossi said.

International aviation safety standards are set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a United Nations body, whose directives are to be implemented by the national civil aviation authorities of the respective states.

However, AFRAA has expressed concern over the lack of autonomy for most of the national civil aviation bodies within Africa, saying they acted as part and parcel of the various African governments, making the enforcement of these regulations difficult.

African airline chiefs are gathered at the AFRAA base in Nairobi, Kenya, for the two-day air disaster management training aimed at preparing the various African airlines on emergency responses to air crashes.

AFRAA has called on ICAO to act tough on African states failing to abide by the air safety standards, which is critical for ensuring the survival of the air travelers in times of accidents.

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