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Freighter crash highlights African aviation woes

By control on June 4, 2012

On Saturday, June 2, a Boeing 727-200 freighter operated by Allied Air Cargo overshot the runway at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport and crashed into a minibus, killing at least 10 passengers. Reports out of Accra indicated that all four crew members onboard the cargo plane survived the accident.

Boeing issued a statement regarding the incident, offering condolences to those affected by the crash and launching an official probe.

“At the request of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, Boeing Air Safety Investigation will join with the NTSB to provide technical assistance to the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority in its investigation,” according to Boeing.

One day later, Boeing issued a similar statement concerning a plane crash in Africa — this time involving a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 flown by Nigerian carrier Dana Air. On Sunday, June 3, Dana Air Flight 992 crashed into a two-story residential building in Lagos, Nigeria, resulting in at least 163 casualties. There were no survivors among the 153 passengers and crew members onboard the craft, according to local reports.

These incidents underscore the aviation problems that have long plagued Africa, issues that the International Air Transport Association addressed in its 2011 global accident rate report. Although the total number of accidents among African carriers fell from 18 in 2010 to eight in 2011, Africa is still the most problematic region in the industry, according to IATA.

In fact, IATA reported, the accident rate for African carriers not appearing on the IATA Operational Safety Audit registry is five times higher than the global average; in contrast, the rate among African carriers on the IOSA registry was almost equivalent to the world average, according to a press release.

Even so, IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler said the problems in Africa are multifaceted and stem from “insufficient government oversight and a lack of infrastructure investment.” He cited IOSA registration as a key way to overcome such obstacles.

After all, Tyler said in March, “Safety is the air transport industry’s No.1 priority. But every accident is one too many, and each fatality is a human tragedy. The ultimate goal of zero accidents keeps everyone involved in aviation focused on building an ever-safer industry.”

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