The International Air Transport Association has announced further enhancements to its commitment to improve aviation safety in Africa.“African safety has improved, but the accident rate is still nearly six times the global average. This must change. IATA is serious about delivering results that will raise the bar on aviation safety,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Bisignani announced the Association’s latest addition to its African safety initiatives—the Implementation Programme for Safe Operations in Africa (IPSOA). “This is a US$3.7 million programme that follows on the US$5.4 million that we have already committed to improve safety in this region,” said Bisignani.
IPSOA will give up to 30 African airlines access to IATA’s Flight Data Analysis (FDA) tool over a three-year period. FDA offers airlines the capability to statistically analyse data from actual flights to improve procedures and monitor compliance. FDA offers critical insight for aircraft maintenance by using data to monitor engine condition trends and aircraft fuel usage.
“IPSOA is a partnership to improve both safety and efficiency. IATA will provide access to the data, but the airlines must invest to ensure that their organisations can take advantage of the programme,” said Bisignani.
Bisignani also highlighted IATA’s three other key areas to improve African safety:
1. Auditing: Twenty African carriers are among the 193 airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit Registry. With less than eight months to the December 31 deadline for obtaining IOSA registration, 15 IATA members in Africa have open findings. “Our goal is to have all of our members on board to raise the bar on safety. We will be working with our African members in a special Partnership for Safety Plus programme to bring our members into compliance with IOSA standards by the end of the year,” said Bisignani. Bisignani also urged African governments to make use of IOSA. “Already Egypt and Madagascar are mandating IOSA as part of their safety oversight programmes. I want to see more African governments follow their lead—including Nigeria,” said Bisignani.
2. Infrastructure: Bisignani highlighted two areas of concern. “Despite high user charges, in many parts of Africa infrastructure is poorly funded and not up to international standards. Lack of transparency is a critical issue that is costing lives. IATA supports the creation of special infrastructure fund mechanisms to ensure that the money that airlines pay in charges stays in the industry,” said Bisignani.
3. Skills Shortage: “Airlines are competing in a global market that has a shortage of licensed personnel. To meet projected demand in 2026, we must train 19,000 pilots a year. With capacity of 16,000, the shortfall by 2026 would be 54,000 pilots. We must broaden the pool of qualified candidates without compromising on safety. IATA’s Training and Qualification Initiative (ITQI) is working on a comprehensive approach from recruitment to training, standards and technology. Governments also have a role. The challenge is for governments to cooperate and jointly provide and recognise standards, licensing and training. It would help Africa (and other regions) use scarce resources more efficiently while improving safety,” said Bisignani.
“Safety is a team effort. IATA is working closely with all its members to deliver results. Safety oversight is a government responsibility. They must be equally committed to providing resources and leadership. Working together we can make Africa’s skies safer,” said Bisignani.
Bisignani made his comments in a keynote address to industry stakeholders at IATA Aviation Days for Africa being held in Lagos, Nigeria where the Association has just opened a sub-regional office serving Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Liberia and Cape Verde. With the new office, IATA will expand its Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) to the Nigerian market. Anticipating the 100% e-ticketing deadline on 31 May 2008, the Nigerian BSP operation will be among the first completely e-ticketing BSPs in the US$220 billion IATA settlement system.