Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association, has implored African officials to use aviation as a driver of economic growth. Doing so, however, will require African governments to adopt global standards, improve aviation safety and develop a supportive infrastructure, he explained.
“The most pressing problem for African aviation today is safety,” Tyler said in a statement. In fact, the continent saw an average of one accident for every 305,000 flights using Western-built jets in 2011. Although Tyler conceded that this was marked improvement from Africa’s 2010 accident rate, he said it was still nine times higher than the global average.
“It should be as safe to travel by air in Africa as it is in any other part of the world,” Tyler said in a statement.
Fostering a safe environment led aviation authorities to devise the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan. The plan, sanctioned by IATA and the International Civil Aviation Organization, calls for all African carriers to complete IATA Operational Safety Audit registration and contains specific ways to improve aviation safety in Africa from now until 2015.
Tyler said IOSA registration is integral to aviation development in Africa since the accident rate of IOSA-registered African airlines in 2011 was nearly equivalent to the global average. “That tells us that applying global standards to African aviation will yield results,” Tyler stated. “And the most effective way to increase the adoption of IOSA in Africa is for governments to mandate participation for all airlines.”
Other key objectives in the Africa Strategic Improvement Action Plan include the establishment of independent African civil aviation authorities and the implementation of flight data analysis and safety management systems. IATA and ICAO also encourage African officials to employ “transparent” safety oversight systems and accident-prevention measures, with the latter focused on runway safety and loss of control.
Still, Tyler acknowledged that humanitarian concerns trump aviation development in the minds of African officials. “Eliminating poverty, improving health, raising living standards and generating jobs rank much higher,” he said in a statement. “My message is not to shift priorities, but to ask governments to see aviation as an economic driver and develop policies to support that important role.”