African airlines stepping up safety and security

For the past two weeks, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has administered training in integrated management systems for Africa’s airline companies with focus on safety and security.

For the past two weeks, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has administered training in integrated management systems for Africa’s airline companies with focus on safety and security.

The need comes after the continent has been dubbed the worst for aviation accidents in the world.

“The rate is completely out of control,” said Jose Castellanos, who is conducting the training and vice president of Aviation and International Projects for Qualinet Surlatina Gestion, a Chilean consultant company for integrated management systems. “Africa can reduce accidents and we are giving them the best practices that have seen successful results in countries like the UK and Canada.”

Efforts have found the root causes to be a lack of resources, insufficient regulations, inspection policies and auditing, combined with the use of old equipment.

Rwanda was chosen as the host country because of a scheduling process that best fit the timing of the many African airlines. Some of the participants included: Kenya Airways, South African Airways, and Tunsi Air.

The training discussed IATA’s Operational Safety Audit Programme (IOSA) which is used to evaluate and assess the operational management and control systems of an airline. An airline receives certification only if all requirements of the programme are met.

Audits are done annually and the certification process occurs every two years. Members include Air Canada, American Airlines, and British Airways among other large international companies.
 Rwandair is one of the certified African airlines that has set the standards for other African companies to follow as it played host to the training seminars.

“We are updating our procedures and management systems and we have a project o ensure we are IATA-certified” said John Gwaskeo, the technical and IOSA project manager for Rwandair.

Aircraft accidents are defined as events causing injuries or fatalities. It is difficult to form statistics based on accidents because a few could happen over the course of one million flights which travel in three months or even one.
Manzi Kayihura, the chief executive officer for Rwandair says the training is part of their efforts to continually enhance standards, especially considering Africa’s reputation.

“Africa is grouped as one sky, so although accidents occur in other countries besides Rwanda, the whole continent suffers,” he said.

Gwaskeo agrees Africa needs to enhance its standards. He says he is optimistic, but recognises its countries are still lacking modern technology.

“Rwanda is still a developing country, therefore our aviation industry is still developing as well, but the potential is immense,” he said.

Rwanda is also a landlocked country, making air travel the most efficient mode of transportation.

Rwandair is due to be audited at the end of this year and has prospects of expanding to further destinations as it maintains its good record. Gwaskeo says the training will continue annually for Africa to improve its standards and upgrade its status in the aviation industry.

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