ICAO, IATA Say Action Plan Will Improve Aviation Safety in Africa

The agencies say runway excursions, controlled flight into terrain, and loss of control are the major air transport accident types, and the main contributing factors are insufficient regulatory oversight and lack of Safety Management Systems.

Two leading aviation safety organizations, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), on July 18 urged ministers attending the African Ministerial Meeting on Aviation Safety being held in Abuja, Nigeria to adopt the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan, which they say could progressively improve air transport safety on the continent through 2015.

The plan calls for establishing independent, sufficiently funded civil aviation authorities, implementing effective and transparent safety oversight systems by all African states, having all states complete an IATA Operational Safety Audit (required for membership in IATA), implementing accident prevention measures focused on runway safety and loss of control, implementing Flight Data Analysis, urgent resolution of all identified Significant Safety Concerns, certification of all international airports, and having all service providers implement Safety Management Systems (SMS).

IATA, ICAO, leading aviation stakeholders, and regulatory organizations committed to the plan, which was based on an analysis of air transport accidents in Africa from 2006 to 2010, after the Africa Safety Summit held in Johannesburg in May 2012. The agencies say runway excursions, controlled flight into terrain, and loss of control are the major air transport accident types, and the main contributing factors are insufficient regulatory oversight and lack of Safety Management Systems. Runway excursions alone accounted for about one-quarter of African accidents.

IATA, ICAO, and other international organizations developed a Runway Safety Programme that is being disseminated through a workshop series around the world. The next African event is Oct. 29-30 in Cape Town, South Africa, and another event is planned for Western Africa in March 2013. The Runway Safety Toolkit is available on the IATA and ICAO websites at no charge. The ICAO Journal devoted one of its 2011 issues to the topic of runway safety (http://www.icao.int/publications/journalsreports/2011/6602_en.pdf), profiling efforts to harmonize strategies and practices around the world.

"For ICAO, states with significant safety concerns are a priority, and I cannot stress enough that they should be the priority of all stakeholders," said ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh González.

"Global standards such as [the IATA Operational Safety Audit, IOSA] are a proven way to improve aviation safety. In 2011, Africa-based operators on the IOSA registry had an accident rate of 1.84 per million flights, which is close to the world IOSA average of 1.73. By comparison, non-IOSA operators in Africa had an accident rate of 9.31," said Guenther Matschnigg, IATA's senior vice president of Safety, Operations and Infrastructure. "The 2012 Western-built jet accident rate for Africa as of 30 June was 6.28, which is 92 percent higher than last year at the same time. This increase in the accident rate reflects the two tragic accidents in Nigeria last month that remind us that safety is a constant challenge even in states with a solid safety leadership. However, no IOSA-registered carriers based in Africa have been involved in accidents in 2012 at the time of this report, confirming the efficiency of complying with the audit's 900+ standards. Therefore we urge the African transport ministers to mandate IOSA for all carriers in the region."

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