The tragic crash of Kenya Airways 507 in Cameroon enroute from Abidjan to Douala has sparked a wave of articles in international media reminding readers of the dangers of flying in Africa. Reuters Africa, while speculating that the crash won’t fiscally damage Kenya Airways in the long run, notes: ” The accident has compounded Africa’s already bad record as the most dangerous continent to fly in. It has the highest rate of air accidents in the world, while accounting for just 4.5 percent of traffic.”
African bloggers were out in front of the story, responding to the news with challenges to the view that all African carriers are unsafe and defending the safety record of Kenya Airways. Mental Acrobatics, in particular, was all over the story, pointing out that Kenya Airways is one of four African carriers registered with the IOSA (the IATA Operational Safety Audit), the gold standard for carrier safety, that the plane involved was a brand new Boeing 737-800, and that African airlines have a significantly better safety record than airlines in the former Soviet Union. While Reuters assertion about continent-wide records is correct, the IATA statistics cited by Mental suggest that airlines in the former Soviet Union are twice as dangerous as African carriers.
That said, Mental acknowledges that there’s a lot not to like in the African skies, including 92 carriers banned from European airspace due to safety concerns: “The ‘blacklist’ includes 50 airlines registered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 13 from Sierra Leone, 11 from Equatorial Guinea, 6 from Swaziland and 3 from Liberia. (Yes that was FIFTY from the DRC!)” The reason there are so many carriers in the DRC points to the importance of aviation in Africa – the vast DRC has less than 2,500km of paved roads, which means that most commerce and transit between the east and west of the country requires air links. In countries where road and rail infrastructure is underdeveloped, air travel is disproportionately important. There are hundreds of small carriers who run ad-hoc and opportunistic routes, connecting places that would otherwise be largely unconnected.
Kenya Airways is emphatically not one of these carriers. It’s a modern, comfortable, well-run carrier that’s had a great run in East African stock exchanges. I’ve held shares in the company, have flown it in the past, and plan to fly it again next month. The success of the carrier, the part-ownership by KLM, and its high standards for quality and safety have been a source of pride for many Kenyans.
There’s no definitive information about the cause of the crash of flight KQ 507, but it would not be surprising to discover that weather played a factor as there were major storms in the region at the time of the disaster. Some commenters on a thread on Global Voices have wondered about the role of control towers, aircraft controllers and reliable weather data in flying West and Central African routes.
One of the individuals reported killed in the crash was AP correspondent Anthony Mitchell, a brilliant journalist whose spirited and insightful coverage from Ethiopia led him to be kicked out of that nation. My friend Andrew Heavens offered a tribute to Mitchell’s reporting last year when he was throw out of Addis. My condolences to his family and his journalistic colleagues.
SOMETIMES I WONDER WHY THERE HAVE TO BE BLAMES AFTER AN EVENT OCCURS.TIMELY INFORMATION IS WHAT IS NEEDED WHICH UNFORTUNATELY IS NOT EASY TO COME BY. WHAT HUMANITY HAS FAILED TO REALISE IS THE NEED FOR TIMELY INFORMATION ABOUT THE OCCURRENCE AND NON-OCCURRENCE OF EVENTS SO THAT A PREVENTION MECHANISM IS TAKEN AND NOT A COREECTION MECHANISM.
LET US ALL SIT DOWN AND EXAMINE OUR CONCIENCE AND TRY TO FIGURE OUT SOMETHING THAT WILL SAVE HUMANITY FROM FATAL DISASTERS LIKE THIS.
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why why why a new boeng manufactured in america,dumped in kenya vunishes with loved ones .well am not playing blame game but the time it took to discover the where bout is very questionable.
KQ has been a great airline and will continually be. I support them fully. It is an unfortunate accident but I don’t think the airline can be blamed for this one. The story will come out and we will see what it is but as you have said Ethan, KQ is not an ad hoc airline.
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Kenya airways have a good safety record in Africa.They are the ‘pride of africa.” We are still to question how safe the route to west Africa is. As this is the second tradegy to be befall the arline in the same route.
You guys over here, dont understand the pain the family members go through. If kenya air ways is safe how come they just take off when there is thunder and strom? Is this safety??? My parents were there in it Mr. Kevin Joseph Jude Nigli and Mrs. Shirly Nigli and they were returning to see my new born daughter and that is when this took place. You guys have to go through the pain I still have only then you will understand…. I will surely blame the kQ 507 as well as the staff as well as the support staff. I hope all of these people rest in peace. Coz I know my parents will really be sad still not able to touch their precious grand daughter. I really wish all you guys go through what I am going through.
I MISS MY DAD AND MUM LIKE NEVER BEFORE