Another plane crash prompts calls for sharper oversight

The series of crashes of helicopters and light aircraft in Kenya continued yesterday, when a Cessna 152, registration 5Y-NNC and MSN 152-83020 crashed near Kibiku, not far from Nairobi.

The training aircraft owned and operated by Ninety Nines Flying School, which is based at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, had an instructor and a trainee pilot on board when it made what looks like a forced landing in a maize field, overturning in the process and coming to a stop upside down.

Both instructor and trainee were rushed to hospital, according to reports received from Nairobi, with unspecified injuries.

The plane, which had taken off from Wilson Airport just minutes prior to the incident, suffered serious damage to the hull and wings and had the propeller ripped off on impact. From information received by a source at Wilson Airport, it does appear that the aircraft developed an unspecified mechanical problem soon after being airborne, and issued a radio message to that effect before going down.

Two helicopter crashes over the past weeks and the crash of a Cessna 210L Centurion last Thursday have rocked the aviation fraternity, as once again questions are being asked on how effective the regulatory oversight is vis a vis aircraft maintenance, mandatory pilot re-training and related issues.