Russian aircraft under the spotlight  
May 23, 2006, 17 hours, 19 minutes and 21 seconds ago.
By AND West Africa
A breakdown of aircraft accidents in Africa last year show that 19 out of the 24 accidents that happened in the continent involved Russian manufactured aircraft. This has prompted Nigeria to review the country's usage of aircraft from Russia.
The Nigerian federal government may ban the use of all Russian manufactured aircraft by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority due to the high accident rate involving such aircraft.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority's (NCAA's) Dr Harold Demuren made this announcement in Ota at the

 weekend while giving a breakdown of aircraft accidents in Africa last year.

The breakdown showed that 19 out of the 24 accidents that happened in the continent involved Russian manufactured aircraft.

He also said that about half of the aircraft accidents in the continent occurred on aircraft operating under foreign registry, most of which had ineffective safety oversight, questionable safety certificates, fake insurance papers and forged flight crew licensees.

"All contribute to high rate of accidents. African civil aviation authorities must be ready to ground these dangerous operations. In Nigeria, the holiday is over for them. It is no longer business as usual," said Demuren.

He emphasised that safety is a concept that encompasses aircraft design, crew, operation, maintenance, air traffic control and regulatory oversight.

Demuren also highlighted other issues that are responsible for aircraft accidents in the continent. They include infrastructure decay, which comprises air traffic control, navigation aids, airport equipment and weather, unsafe airline operations and ineffective regulatory oversight.

Demuren also spoke on the issue of apron accidents, which he described as a major industry problem. According to him, the cost of apron accident is estimated at about US$5 billion annually. In view of this, he stressed the need for airlines to have adequate insurance to cover this type of aircraft accident.

On the state of safety oversight in Nigeria, the director general said his organisation has been able to undertake "comprehensive re-certification of all Nigerian registered aircraft, airline operators, airports, personnel and airspace system".

He emphasised the need for Nigeria to pass International Aviation Safety Assessment (Iasa) category 1, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety audit as well as meet international aviation security standards.

Demuren who spoke at a retreat organised by the ministry of aviation for news editors and aviation journalists presented a paper entitled "Routine Incidents/Accidents in the Aviation Industry Crisis Communication".

Nkem Osuagwu, Financial Standard (Lagos)