President, Aviation Round Table (ART), Mr Gbenga Olowo, has urged African airlines and Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA) to intensify efforts towards ensuring that the continent maintained its 2016 zero accident record.
Olowo made the plea while delivering a keynote address at the Akwaaba Travel and Tourism Fair in Lagos on Monday.
It would be recalled that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had revealed that airlines from the region had zero passenger fatalities and zero jet hull losses in its data released for the 2016 safety performance of the commercial airline industry.
The apex aviation body in the document signed by its Director-General, Mr Alexandre de Juniac, said the accident rate in the continent was 2.30 per one million departures, compared to 9.73 for the previous five years.
It added that the continent also saw continuing improvement in turboprop safety, with a turboprop hull loss rate of 1.56 (85 per cent lower than its 2011-2015 yearly average).
However, Olowo, who spoke on the topic, “2016 Africa Aviation Accident Free Year: What Did Africa Do Right?,’’ said the feat was laudable because safety was critical to air transportation.
“Aeroplanes are no longer dropping from the skies, African airlines are no longer flying coffins and the confidence is growing on the continent and creating more opportunities to do business with aircraft suppliers and leasors,’’ he said.
According to him, the key improvement parameters were hinged on the rigorous International Operation Safety Audit (IOSA) and IATA Safety Assessment.
“IATA being an airline association through IOSA have made its members to be principally responsible for safety and not necessarily the regulator. Airline members, in striving for safety also do go the extra mile to subject itself to audit by other jurisdictions outside its own registration. e.g European Aviation Safety Audit (EASA) Certification, in addition to that of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).’’
He noted that airlines had intensified human capital development through routine and scheduled training for all pilots since pilot error accounted for about 80 per cent of all aviation accidents.
Other factors, according to him, include improving the budget for aircraft maintenance, usage of newer fleet by operators and continued advocacy for improved aviation infrastructure.
Also speaking, Mr Tunji Oketunbi, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), said Nigeria was benefiting from the various changes introduced into the industry over the years, just as he noted that the AIB had made several recommendations on accident reports which had been implemented by the NCAA and the affected airlines, to forestall their recurrence.