According to the Flight Safety Foundation, Africa has by far the worst airline accident rate of all the world regions. There is considerable evidence to suggest that a part of the reason is laxity in safety oversight and regulatory enforcement by national aviation authorities.

Between January and June this year, five of the world’s 16 fatal airline accidents (31%) occurred in African countries despite the fact that less than 5% of global airline activity takes place there. Oversight in Africa is particularly important because of the relatively high proportion of old Western-built aircraft operating there, together with old Soviet-built freighters that are often wet-leased and not registered in the country where they are now based.

In the last 13 months, the national authorities of two African countries have admitted safety oversight failure. They are probably the tip of the iceberg, but the two accidents prompting these admissions are:

  •  A Gabon Express BAe 748 suffered an engine failure on take off from Libreville, Gabon on 8 June 2004, and could not stay airborne on the remaining engine. Nineteen of the 30 people on board died. The airline was grounded when the transport minister was told that the aircraft was not insured.
  •  A Service Air Antonov An-12 suffered the loss of one of its four engines on take off from Entebbe, Uganda (8 January), but could not stay airborne. According to the inquiry, the Congo-registered aircraft was 6.5t overloaded, the airline did not have an operator’s certificate, the aircraft did not have a certificate of airworthiness, there were no crew training or maintenance records, and the An-12 was not insured.

Source: Flight International