MPs blame regulator for air accidents

Thursday, October 31st, 2019 06:00 |

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) is on the spot for allegedly licensing aircraft that do not meet safety requirements, thus placing lives of passengers at risk.

Following a series of mishaps involving planes operated by Silverstone Air and Safarilink Aviation, MPs on Tuesday warned that failure to enforce safety procedures amounted to was to courting disaster.

Consequently, the National Assembly’s Transport Committee summoned managers of the two private commercial airlines to appear before it tomorrow to explain recent incidents. 

Last inspection

The committee chaired by David Pkosing (Pokot South) wants the two companies to provide information about the age of their aircraft, the last inspection date and who issued their airworthiness certificates.

In addition, the committee wants KCAA, which is responsible for regulating the aviation industry and provision of air navigation services, to also provide information on the fleet of aircraft that operate from Wilson Airport.

“Most Kenyans travel via Wilson Airport to various destinations. We need KCAA to tell us the age of aircraft operated by local airlines from the terminal,” Pkosing told the media at Parliament Buildings.

The MP, who was accompanied by committee members Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Mugambi Rindikiri (Buuri) and Dominic Kosgei (Sotik), said they want to establish the last time  Silverstone and Safarilink aircraft were inspected for airworthiness and who did the inspection “that gave the planes a clean bill of health despite being air unworthy.”

The summons came hours after a Safarilink plane from Lamu, which was carrying 10 passengers, skidded off the runway while landing at Wilson Airport on Tuesday.

Reports indicated the plane veered off the runway after a tyre burst. The 10 passengers and two crew were unhurt in the incident.

“We can confirm that all the 10 passengers and two crew escaped unhurt and that the aircraft was procedurally removed from the runway,” read a statement by Safarilink, adding that KCAA officials had visited the scene of the incident.

On Monday a Silverstone plane flying from Lodwar to Nairobi lost a rear tyre during takeoff forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing at the Eldoret Airport.

On August 16, 2019, another aircraft registration number 5Y-SLM operated by Safarilink was involved in an accident after it encountered wildebeests at the runway while landing at the Kichwa Tembo Airstrip, Maasai Mara, Narok county.

The committee has also invited the Kenya Airports Authority to explain the status of the airports and airstrips.

On Monday, KCAA said it would audit the airlines’ operations to ascertain the cause of the regular incidents.

But the Transport Committee yesterday dismissed KCAA’s move saying its “actions fall below expectations of Kenyans.”

“KCAA cannot wake up today and tell us they are doing an audit on the aircraft. What have they been doing?” asked Pkosing.

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