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IATA urges improvement of Africa’s aviation safety

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LAGOS, Nigeria – the International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged increased emphasis on safety and infrastructure improvements as the top priority for African aviation during the Association

LAGOS, Nigeria – the International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged increased emphasis on safety and infrastructure improvements as the top priority for African aviation during the Association’s second African Aviation Days. The event was held in Lagos, Nigeria on 28-29 March with the support of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the participation of aviation professionals from around Africa. IATA’s presence was headed by Mike Higgins, the association’s newly appointed Regional Vice President for Africa.

Africa had a 2010 accident rate of 7.41 accidents per million flights. This was an improvement over the 9.94 recorded in 2009, but the record remains the worst among the world’s regions, and 12 times worse than the global average of 0.61. African carriers are 2% of global traffic, but 23% of global western-built jet hull losses.

IOSA – the IATA Operational Safety Audit – is a key tool for improving aviation safety, and a mandatory requirement for membership of IATA. In 2010, the accident rate of African carriers on the registry of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (for all aircraft types) was more than 50% better than non-IOSA airlines. Some 21 of the 351 airlines on the IOSA registry are from sub-Saharan Africa, and it is a key IATA goal to further improve safety by bringing more carriers on board with IOSA’s 900+ global standards. The latest airline to be IOSA registered is Arik Air, who were officially awarded their accreditation at the Aviation Day.

“Flying must be equally safe in all parts of the world. An accident rate in Africa that is over 12 times the global average is not acceptable. Improvements can happen. IATA’s African carriers performed significantly better than non-IATA airlines in the region. I encourage all governments in the region to make use of the IOSA tool to boost the region’s performance,” said Bisignani.

Among IATA’s efforts in Africa, it established the IATA Program for Safe Operations in Africa (IPSOA). IPSOA ensured that flight data analysis tools are available to all IATA carriers in Africa, and as of the last quarter of 2010, all IATA carriers have this essential safety tool in place. IPSOA will provide IATA with the data needed to develop safety programs targeted at specific challenges in the region.

African Aviation Days took a comprehensive look at the challenges facing the continent’s industry which employs 430,000 and supports $9.2bn in economic activity. In addition to safety, another focus of the comprehensive discussions was infrastructure. IATA commented that a lack of funding and inconsistent government policies is holding back African infrastructure development. IATA’s primary aim is to work with governments to ensure that monies raised through user charges are reinvested back into aviation infrastructure programs.

One priority highlighted is the development of infrastructure to support performance based navigation (PBN). In line with the 2007 ICAO resolution which called for states to implement PBN concepts, IATA is assisting with the roll-out of PBN, to improve both safety and cut fuel burn and emissions. ICAO’s target is for full worldwide implementation of PBN by 2025, and Nigeria is the first West African country to embrace a PBN strategy that will cover 24 airports across the country.