Experts in the civil aviation industry believe that existing capacity gaps in the sector are the main cause of fatal plane accidents in the world, highlighting the need for continued training programmes.
The pronouncement was made during the opening of a two-week training workshop to equip all air transport operators in the country including engineers, pilots and other related staff, with knowledge on safety management systems.
The training is conducted by instructors from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a UN agency charged with coordination and regulation of international air travel to ensure safety and growth of the sector in the world.
The experts said there was need to build the capacity of aviation personnel.
Prosper Zo’o Minto’o, a regional officer at ICAO, told The New Times that unless all the air transport operators undergo intensive training programmes, fatal accidents would persist.
“We realised that to overcome all these accidents, we must train all civil aviation operators from countries signatory to the Chicago convention,” said the official.
The Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed in 1944 in the US, obliges all signatory states to respect all the rules of air space, aircraft registration and safety and other related regulations.
Rwanda is a signatory.
Minto’o, a professional pilot, who is also among the trainers, observed that for the country’s sector to grow and meet international standards, it must have well equipped and experienced staff, adding this also boosts customer confidence.
During the event, the State Minister in charge of Transport, Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana, highlighted that the industry still faces more challenges hence the need for further cooperation and training to bridge the gap.
“The aviation industry is facing many challenges worldwide. One of those challenges is the sustained availability of competent and qualified technical personnel necessary to ensure the development and growth of a safe and efficient air transport industry,” he said.
According to the minister, ICAO’s Universal Oversight Audit Programme for Rwanda in 2007, identified lack of qualified aviation personnel as a major deficiency in many areas.
“As the country is landlocked, air transport is of great importance to us. As you know, Rwanda is now a major tourist destination and tourism contributes significantly to our economy and more than 90 percent of these tourists use air transport,” he said.
In an interview, Dr Richard Masozera, the Director General of Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, said that it was imperative for the aviation operators to acquire internationally required skills as the sector continues to register high growth.
“We are purchasing new planes, the industry is growing; therefore, we need to create more confidence in our clients by having more qualified workers,” said Masozera.
The national carrier, RwandAir, recently increased its fleet to seven aircrafts following the acquisition of two Boeing 737-800 Sky Interior jets.
Fred Mupende Nsolo, the Deputy Cabin Services Manager at RwandAir, welcomed the training saying the airline would immediately apply the safety management system to attract more clients.