Improving aviation safety in Africa
African aviation training organization launched in Nairobi
(eTN) - Following 5 days of meetings in Kampala last week, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) moved on to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where another series of seminars, workshops, and interaction with regulators and the private sector is underway.
On Monday, one long-awaited piece of the puzzle was revealed regarding how to improve aviation safety on the continent of Africa. A new Africa-wide training organization association was formally launched in the presence of ICAO Secretary General, Mr. Raymond Benjamin.
Said a senior staff member of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) during last week’s launch of the Kenya Airways share rights issue, when asked directly, though on condition of not being named for not being an official spokesperson: “All over Africa we have a serious problem with getting more pilots. It is a bigger problem even in countries where aviation is growing at a fast rate, like here in Kenya, in East Africa.
“We do not have enough capacity yet to produce more ATPL [Airline Transport Pilot License] license holders. When we launch the new association on Monday it is meant to inject quality criteria, set standards, and promote the creation of government-owned and private-owned aviation academies.
“You in Uganda have the Soroti school, but even there it is under facilitation, which constraints the output of pilots and engineers. Those are two critical areas.
“Kenya Airways now has their Pride Academy and simulators, which helps in training, but for most they send pilot student trainees abroad until they are ready.
“I think here we need to see the long-term savings and job creation for East Africans when we say we must have more such aviation schools here in our part of Africa.
“Aviation grows almost faster than many other sectors, and we can produce highly-skilled individuals who can work anywhere in the world. And when you look at it, skilled manpower in engineering, which these schools also teach, attracts international manufacturers to consider putting up some significant MROs (maintenance and repair organizations) here in East Africa, but so far they go to South Africa or North Africa for lack of enough homegrown and qualified personnel.”
At the same function it was also mentioned by the Chairman of Kenya Airways, Evanson Mwaniki, that the airline has sought permission from the authorities to recruit captains from abroad to have enough crews for their growing fleet, until young Kenyans have acquired the skills and experience needed to step up and get their four stripes.