Africa faces big challenge in improving aviation safety: AFRAA

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Improving the safety record of African airlines is the biggest challenge facing the continent's aviation industry, according to African Airlines Association secretary general Elijah Chingosho.

Speaking at the association's 43rd annual general assembly in Marrakech, Morocco, Chingosho said that Africa's accident rate was being tarnished by the poor safety record of a few countries.

He said that the Democratic Republic of Congo topped this list. Chingosho added that an IATA-sponsored safety summit in the country in May 2012 would look to further address Africa's aviation safety issues.

The AFRAA head also attacked the European Union's blacklist of African countries, which he said "achieved nothing in terms of improving safety" and simply served to "further the commercial interests of EU carriers".

To emphasise this point, Chingosho said that two of AFRAA's member airlines which possess IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification were on the blacklist. He urged Africa to "speak with one voice against the blacklist" and called on Africa's airline chief executives to strategise for removal from it.

Chingosho's views were echoed by IATA chief executive Tony Tyler, who said: "IATA does not believe that banning airlines improves safety."

Urging African carriers to adopt IOSA standards, he pointed to Nigeria as an example of how safety measures could be improved. Possessing the worst accident rate in Africa in 2005, Nigeria's safety improvements led to one further hull loss in 2006 and none since then.

Tyler said that during his time as IATA chief executive he would focus on improving safety in African aviation.