By Petronella Sibeene
The Director of Aircraft Accident Investigations in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication Ericsson Nengola says accidents in the aviation industry are on the rise with the main contributing factor being human error.
During the national consultative conference held on Wednesday, Nengola disclosed that since 2005, the number of aircraft accidents in the country has increased.
The consultative conference was aimed at addressing deficiencies that might exist in aviation operational systems and procedures.
Statistics show that in 2005, there were 78 aircraft accidents with 37 cases being human error. In 2006 the number of accidents recorded were 83.
Investigations found that 44 of these cases were a result of human error.
Last year also registered 89 accident occurrences and 50 of these incidents were caused by human fault.
“Most of the occurrences investigated by this directorate so far, revealed that causal factors are primarily as a result of human error,” he reiterated.
Human errors include mismanagement of fuel, not compensating for density altitude, lack of proper training, exceeding the performance limitations of the aircraft, overloading the aircraft, unapproved modification and flying in adverse weather conditions.
He added that only a small percentage of occurrences are caused by structural or material failure as well as weather and underestimated circumstances.
The director called on the industry to step up efforts in analysing the routine operations in order to identify new risks before they lead to a hazardous situation.
One of the major issues to re-look is the training of operators in the industry.
Nengola said the aviation sector is in the process of introducing the Aviation Bulletin that will educate aviation personnel on how to avoid aviation accidents.
He added that air transport is safe, but those operating in it should guard against complacency.
Meanwhile, Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Joel Kaapanda says Government will not compromise on security and non-compliance with international standards and recommended practices. He added that culprits will be taken to task.
“We need to change our mindset on safety and security aspects regarding our operations, in order for us to achieve high growth,” the minister stressed.
According to Kaapanda, frequent accidents have the potential to tarnish the image of Namibian air space and that could lead to air travellers losing confidence. Consequently, the tourism industry would suffer and the economy at large.
“Namibia might lose out on its efforts to attract tourists and business visitors to the country, simply because accidents receive bad publicity and this impacts negatively on the aviation industry in particular and the country in general,” the minister said. The industry further thought it wise to deliberate on improving the industry as it braces itself for the 2010 FIFA World Cup destined to take place in neighbouring South Africa.
During that period, air traffic in the country is anticipated to increase by 36 percent.
The minister strongly emphasized the need to intensify the regulatory framework that includes frequent spot check on operation manuals, licensing of aircraft and pilots.