In Summary
  • On October 11, a Silverstone aircraft (5Y-IZO) that was departing for Lamu crashed at Wilson Airport.
  • October 27 when a Silverstone aircraft (5Y-SMT) clipped an EASAX aircraft at the ramp at Wilson Airport.
  • On October 28, another Silverstone aircraft (5Y-BWG) lost a wheel on take-off from Lodwar.

There has been an average of an aircraft mishap every month within the Kenyan airspace in the past 22 months, according to a report, as the general safety of the country’s aviation industry comes under intense scrutiny.

This comes even as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rates Kenya’s air safety record as ‘commendable’ with a 78 per cent score in the last released results of 2017.

The score ranked Kenya at position 67 globally and seventh in Africa after South Africa, Mauritania, Togo, Egypt, Gambia and Madagascar.

Beneath this seemingly good record is an industry that insiders say continues to threaten the safety of passengers as regulators, airline operators and the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) look the other way on issues that could be the difference between a safe flight and an accident.

INCIDENTS

Angered by the state of affairs, Parliament on Friday summoned Transport ministry officials, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) for grilling in the wake of increased aircraft incidents.

“We want them to explain what they are doing on air safety because we cannot have one incident after another and assume everything is right,” Transport Committee chairman David Pkosing told the Saturday Nation on Friday.

KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe said the recent incidents “are isolated and investigations have been launched”.

However, both the Transport principal secretary and KCAA officials did not turn up for the session with MPs.

MPs now claim the KCAA boss was prevented by unnamed powerful elements in government from appearing before them to give an update on air safety in the country.

According to Mr Pkosing, the Pokot South MP and chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing, Mr Kibe was ready to appear before the committee before things took a dramatic twist.

“Take it from me, the KCAA boss had confirmed the other day that he was coming and yesterday morning he called me to say that he was actually on his way to this committee. It’s only him who can explain what happened,” Mr Pkosing said.

SILVERSTONE AIRLINES

The KCAA boss had been invited alongside Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) management after two planes belonging to Silverstone Airlines recorded emergency landing incidents in a span of three weeks.

With KAA managing director Alex Gitari being the only official who honoured the committee’s invitation, it meant that MPs could not proceed with the meeting.

Nevertheless, Mr Gitari told the MPs that Sh350 million had been budgeted to refill the gaping potholes on the runway at the Wilson airport.

But as Mr Pkosing made the claims, a letter from KCAA to House Speaker Justin Muturi indicated the management was ready to appear any other date apart from yesterday.

Interestingly, the letter was copied to National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai and Leader of Majority Aden Duale but Mr Pkosing was left out, prompting members to protest. They wondered whether the ministry was serious with the safety of air transport as the December festive season approaches.

“This committee will never be intimidated on the safety of the people,” Mr Pkosing noted as he rescheduled the session to November 12.

The frequency and sometimes the casualties involved put the aviation sector regulator, KCAA, on the spot over the quality of inspections they do and the extent to which they enforce laws and regulations regarding acquisition of Air Service Licences and maintenance of the aircraft.

ACCIDENTS

According to a report the Saturday Nation has obtained, there were 28 reported incidents and accidents from January 3, 2018 to October 29, translating to an incident or accident every month.

Two of the accidents involving an aircraft operated by EASAX (5Y-CAC Cessna Caravan) and a private aircraft (5Y-BSE) resulted in a combined 15 fatalities over that period. The EASX aircraft had left Kitale on the fateful day – June 5, 2018 – to Nairobi but crashed in the Aberdares, killing 10 people after the crew changed route due to bad weather.

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