Tuesday, January 17, 2006


African blitz on 'flying coffins'.

Africa accounts for more than a quarter of the world's air crashes. African countries and airlines running unsafe planes face a crackdown from the African Civil Aviation Commission. AFCAC president Tshepo Pheege said it would name and shame airlines operating what he called "flying coffins".
Nearly 400 people died last year in air accidents in Africa, which has a crash rate six times the world average. At the same time, Nigeria has grounded a third domestic airline. Nigeria's president launched a task force on air safety after two major crashes in 2005. "One of the most important things in choosing an airline is how safe it is," said Mr Pheege. "You don't want to fly out as a passenger and come back as cargo." Africa accounts for only 4% of global air traffic but 27% of all air crashes. More than 200 died in two accidents in Nigeria last yearLast year, 15 air accidents were recorded in Africa.
AFCAC, a specialised agency of the African Union, will be following up on whether its recommendations are being adhered to. Mr Pheege said lack of transparency among many African states had resulted in safety concerns being ignored.
On Monday, the Nigerian presidential task force created to improve aircraft safety grounded Executive Airline Services, the third Nigerian carrier to be targeted under new safety rules. A spokesman for the company said the order related to administrative, rather than technical irregularities, and flights would soon resume. More than 200 people were killed in two air disasters in Nigeria within a month last year. Two airlines which had been ordered to stop flying have since had the restriction lifted.
These include Sosoliso, the owner of a plane which crashed in Port Harcourt in December, killing 117 people. Aside from the Nigerian accidents, the biggest culprits in 2005 were Russian-built planes, Mr Pheege said.


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