Jun 05, 2012 at 5:22pm
A Weekend Of Air Fatalities
COMMENTARY ON A WEEKEND OF AIR FATALITIES, IS IT A WAKE UP CALL?
The last two days witnessed two air fatalities separately in Accra and Lagos involving two Nigerian registered air lines.
The crash coming in succession have sent worrying signals and raised vital questions about the much talked about aviation and aerodrome safety and security deficit on the continent.
The Saturday clash landing of a Cargo plane that over shot the runway gliding through the perimeter fence into El-wak Stadium as a result of speculative down pour and slippery runway is the first instance.
It was quickly followed by another air crash, this time in Lagos, which killed the over 150 passengers on board and several on the ground.
Such fatalities involving private Nigerian planes are happening too frequently for comfort and safety.
The Saturday cargo plane crash has severely dented the enviable years record of the KIA as a safe and secure aerodrome on the continent.
This should be a wake up call for our Aviation and transport authorities to revisit the drawing board to fix the gaps in our planning and development strategies.
Watchers of the Aviation Industry scene in Ghana can testify that over the years much have been said, discussed and debated in several forums on the need to clear the flight corridors to and from the KIA of all structures.
The two critical points of take-off and landing have seen unregulated and contentious housing and industrial development posing danger to Civil Aviation.
Yes, unfortunate lives were lost on the ground, but assuming that any plane failed to gain height on take-off and fall from the sky, what will be the story to be told of all the people living in the barracks behind the El-wak stadium, East Cantonment and the wireless area of La Township?
Truth must be told, the state and aviation regulators in this country have sat in passive acquiescence to the wanton and unregulated sale and purchase of aviation buffer lands around the KIA.
We are told by experts in Accidents and Emergency situations that there are about 30 thousand signals that precede any fatality.
How much, and what was the level of precaution that the cargo crew took before landing on the supposedly slippery runway at the Accra airport.
After all, this is not the first time that, that particular cargo plane was flying into KIA.
Though the cause of the accident immediately was not known, preliminary reports from the aviation authorities say the cargo plane landed in a pool of water on the runway and the strip becomes slippery anytime there is a down pour.
Remedial measures must be taken immediately to rectify any danger to air traffic.
The KIA cannot afford to loose its enviable record as a safe and secure aerodrome on the continent.
An all weather facility providing internationally standard air service should be the challenge now.
The airport should grow the capacity to handle and accommodate the take-off and landing of all types of aircraft, be they a manufacture of the West, East, North or South.
Another dangerous phenomenon that characterised the response to the cargo plane crash at El-Wak was the conduct of the curious crowd that thronged the accident scene.
The general public must be educated on the consequence of potential further trigger of calamities in the manner we saw the conduct of the crowd.
At least aviation fuel was reported spilled at the scene.
This is one agent which is highly, highly inflammable with the consequence of an inferno.
Such reckless crowd interference with accident scene management and security must be checked, as it posed a high risk of tampering with vital clues and evidences gathering.
People must strictly stay off such accident scenes and allow the technical personnel who have been trained to handle such situations to do their work unimpeded.
Another growing concern facing the aviation industry on the continent is the spectre of over aged aircraft - both for cargo and passengers.
Today in the inventory of fleets in Africa are several air craft of varied manufacture and origin that are over 25 years.
The question is, Is Africa becoming the dumping ground for written off air planes from the advanced countries?
Governments and states and airline companies in Africa must as a matter of divine injunction begin to invest in the acquisition of modern fleet and take steps to improve aerodrome infrastructure fitted with the current range of air navigation equipment.
This is where the security and safety of our aviation industry lies.
There is too much of the fatalities and crashes on the continent.
Ghanaians must highly commend the swift response the country's Emergency Reaction Organisations and the security services for the work done so far.
This goes to prove that the Ghanaian worker who is highly motivated and armed with requisite tools can always deliver.
We should also commend the inter-agency collaboration at the airport for a good work done.
Finally, it should be clear that the aviation industry is not a road transport therefore it is strictly a no go area for the un-initiated.
Hence the so-called social commentators who have gone over speed with several theories and commentaries of what is, and is not should spare us their weird discussions and allow the technical people in the industry to do the comments and discussions.
The five member committee set up by government to investigate the crash, by the list, are all technical men with years of experience in Aviation.
The Committee should not only pinpoint the cause of the crash.
It should forcefully recommend to the authorities to begin work on the relocation of the Accra Airport.
Talks about under utilisation of the present aerodrome should be consigned to the text books.
To the bereaved families of the dead, both in Accra and Lagos, they deserve our heartfelt condolences.
BY: WILLIAM SOWAH HAYEH, A JOURNALIST.