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Old February 10th, 2006, 05:11 PM   #181
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Sudan Airways jet grounded in Nigeria over safety fears

LAGOS, Feb 10, 2006 (AFP) - Nigerian aviation authorities have grounded a Sudan Airways Boeing 747-100 plane for alleged safety problems, an aviation spokesman told AFP on Friday.

"The Sudan Airways plane landed in Kano early this week. On landing, our inspectors found out certain defects, which we want the airline to correct," Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) spokesman Sam Adurogboye told AFP.

"They are already working on the defects and as soon as the exercise is completed, they will inform us and the plane will be let off to go," he said in a telephone interview. He declined to give further details.

Nigeria has stepped up efforts to improve air safety after three successive plane crashes late last year claimed more than 220 lives.

Several planes operating domestic flights in Nigeria have been grounded since November over safety concerns.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 08:12 AM   #182
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Sudanese Plane Explodes, Killing 20
11 February 2006

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) - A military transport plane blew a tire while landing, swerved off the runway and exploded at a southern Sudan airport Saturday, killing all 20 people on board, the army said.

The crash occurred at about 8 a.m. in Aweil, 525 miles southwest of Khartoum.

"One tire exploded while the plane was landing, a matter that made the plane deviate from the tarmac thus leading to its explosion," the Office of the Armed Forces was quoted as saying by the official Sudan Media Center.

The dead included seven crew members and 13 passengers, SMC said.

An army spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
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Old February 13th, 2006, 04:47 PM   #183
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Kenya Airways starts express cargo service to London

NAIROBI, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Kenya Airways said on Monday it had launched a new express cargo service, targeting speedy transportation of perishable goods from the continent.

Shawn McGuiness, Kenya Airways head of cargo said the Express Cargo service would start on the Nairobi-London-Nairobi route, before expanding to other destinations.

"We expect most of the initial cargo to be very highly perishable goods which form a large chunk of the loads for this route, and freight that is very time sensitive," McGuiness told reporters. "This is a first for Africa."

The national carrier is 26 percent owned by Air France-KLM's KLM Dutch arm. The carrier, one of Africa's best performing airlines said it had registered a 27 percent growth in cargo tonnage in the last quarter of 2005.

McGuiness said the service would initially be available on Kenya Airways destinations operating widebody aircraft. It will have a maximum shipment size of 1,000 kilograms, he said.

The carrier saw passenger numbers increase by 23 per cent in the first half of its fiscal year due to its use of bigger Boeing 777 aircraft on routes to Europe, Asia, Middle East, West and Southern Africa.

Kenya Airways became an associate member of SkyTeam, a global airline marketing alliance led by Air France and Delta Air Lines , in June 2005.
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Old February 13th, 2006, 04:55 PM   #184
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^ nice.


Delta Air Lines Announces Service between Atlanta and Africa


Customers will enjoy service to Johannesburg, South Africa; Dakar, Senegal this December, given required government approvals


Delta to be only major U.S. airline to operate scheduled service between the United States and Africa

ATLANTA, Feb. 9, 2006 – Delta Air Lines—the United States’ fastest growing international carrier—today announced that it is seeking the necessary government approvals to become the only major U.S. airline to operate scheduled service between the United States and Africa. In a filing with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Delta is requesting government approvals to begin the first ever Delta-operated service between the world’s largest airline hub in Atlanta and the burgeoning South African city of Johannesburg, with an intermediate stop in Dakar, Senegal, effective in December 2006.

In a press conference held today at The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young joined other Georgia business and civic leaders to applaud Delta’s efforts to connect Atlanta—the seventh-largest home to South African-born residents of the United States – the business capital of South Africa.

“I am proud that Delta has decided to initiate service to South Africa and become the only major U.S. carrier to serve the continent,” Young said. “Delta’s service between Atlanta and South Africa promises to be one of the most successful routes on the planet due to the reach and convenience of Delta’s Atlanta hub. I look forward to flying Atlanta’s hometown airline non-stop to Africa.”

Added Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, "For many years, Delta Air Lines has been a faithful supporter of the city's efforts to raise its stature as a best in class, global city. Through the strategic partnerships and direct flight routes to international destinations in Asia, Europe, North, South and Central America originating from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta has helped foster the city's international, economic and cultural ties and has expanded Atlanta's access to the world."

With the new service, Delta will enter a new continent from Atlanta for the first time since its historic expansion into South America in 1997 and will grow to offer customers more than 60 international destinations from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport by December – up more than 50 from the number of destinations offered just 10 years ago. Delta customers traveling to or from Africa via Atlanta will have convenient connecting opportunities to more than 140 North American cities.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 04:12 PM   #185
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Air Tanzania to end merger with SAfrica carrier

DODOMA, Tanzania, Feb 15, 2006 (AFP) - Tanzania has announced plans to dissolve a merger between its ailing national carrier and South African Airways (SAA) after the privatisation scheme ran into financial difficulties, officials said.

Infrastructure and Development Minister Basil Mramba told parliament late Tuesday that plans were being concluded to sever the partnership, less than two years old, between Air Tanzania Corporation Limited (ATCL) and SAA.

"At the moment legal formalities are being finalised towards that end," he said. "There are problems in the ATCL merger. We have decided to part ways and we are now on how we can end the deal peacefully."

Mramba was responding to complaints by several legislators who criticised the government for selling the nation's flag carrier to SAA, saying the move had "killed" the airline.

SAA bought 75 percent of the shares in the national carrier for 20 million dollars (16.7 million euros) in December 2004, but the firm recorded a pre-tax loss of 7.3 million dollars (six million euros) in its first year of operation after privatisation.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 05:54 AM   #186
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Moroccan airline RAM gets new chief, new plane

RABAT, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Morocco's King Mohammed named Driss Benhima as chief executive officer of the country's flag carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) on Wednesday, an official statement said, as the airline expands and upgrades its fleet.

Benhima, former chairman of development body North Provinces Development Agency, replaces Mohammed Barrada, a former finance minister who was appointed in 2001 to spearhead RAM's modernisation.

The airline acquired a new Boeing 767 plane as part of a $2.15 billion programme to buy 24 new aircraft for the 2002-2012 period, RAM said in a statement on Wednesday.

RAM is due to acquire two Boeing jets and one Airbus plane later this year to beef up its fleet, which comprises 37 aircraft, most of them Boeings.
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Old February 21st, 2006, 12:48 AM   #187
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Report cites technical failure in Egypt Boeing crash

CAIRO, Feb 20, 2006 (AFP) - The final report on the crash of a Flash Airlines plane carrying French tourists two years ago off the coast of Egypt cites a failure in the automatic pilot and guiding system, the official MENA news agency said Monday.

"The report points to faults in the automatic pilot and guiding system. There was not enough time for the pilot to counter" the problem, the agency said, quoting an official from the civil aviation authority.

Contacted by AFP, a member of the panel that investigated the Boeing 737 crash in which 148 people were killed confirmed the information but refused to provide any more details on exactly what caused the accident.

He said the final report into the crash off the coast of the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh would be published on March 25, after several delays.

A French representative for the families of the 135 passengers who died in the crash on January 3, 2004 will attend the press conference on publication day, MENA said.

France has ruled out an attack and the head of the investigation committee, Shaker Qelada, has ruled out any wrongdoing by the pilot but the exact causes of the crash have remained unclear.

Qelada said recently that the final report would not pinpoint a specific cause for the tragedy, which occurred three minutes after takeoff, but would offer a number of scenarios.

Black box cabin recordings published in a preliminary report reveal a number of failures as the aircraft tried to recover from a severe bank angle, before nosediving into the Red Sea.

The doomed flight was chartered by Egypt's Flash Airlines company which has since gone bankrupt.
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Old February 22nd, 2006, 08:44 PM   #188
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Kenya Airways Revamps Website to aid Online Bookings



Kenya Airways (KQ) yesterday re-launched its website to spur online bookings.

Titus Naikuni, the KQ managing director, also urged the Government to privatise Telkom Kenya to stimulate growth in e-commerce.

The airline retails 20 per cent of its tickets directly through the Internet and is looking to increase this figure through its new website.

"This website will not work if we do not have a reliable telecommunications infrastructure and system," said Naikuni.

The airline says a breakdown of the sole international backbone provided by Jambonet, a subsidiary of Telkom Kenya, effects its local bookings. However, bookings in other regions across the globe, KQ says, is not affected since the airline's website is hosted in USA, while the booking engine is in Germany.

"The stability and quality of the infrastructure within Kenya will have an impact," said Rose Ohingo, KQ's customer relations manger in support of Naikuni.

Amadeus, an information Technology solutions provider in the travel and tourism industry, put up the new system.

It has constructed e-retail engines that re-powering websites for 67 reputable airlines in the world, helping them reduce their costs by providing an online tool connected to their data centre.

"We expect booking related costs to reduce by five per cent because it will cost less to market online," said Ohingo.

The Amadeus project manager, Stephan Castagnetta, said global Internet sales were now accounting for between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of airline bookings.

Ohingo said online bookings for KQ were slow but gradually growing at an annual rate of 10 per cent.

"We will be looking to accelerate the growth and make it stronger with the new tool," she said adding that they will make an assessment between June and July after studying the revenue generated.

An airline estimated that KQ generated sales of close to Sh1 billion through online booking last year.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 12:31 AM   #189
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Gabon replaces bankrupt national airline

LIBREVILLE, Feb 25, 2006 (AFP) - The government of Gabon announced late on Friday the immediate liquidation of bankrupt national carrier Air Gabon and its replacement by a new private airline controlled by Morocco's Royal Air Maroc (RAM).

The new carrier, Air Gabon International, has a duty "to be profitable and not rely on the state budget", government spokesman Rene Ndemezo Obiang announced after a late night cabinet meeting.

Air Gabon International will be owned 51 percent by RAM and 49 percent by the government of the west African state.

Its first plane will "hopefully" be airborne on June 1, a source close to the company said.

In the meantime the Libreville government would ensure the continuation of Air Gabon flights to some destinations -- particularly the highly profitable Gabon-Europe route -- and set up a scheme to help its 1,000 employees, Ndemezo Obiang said.

Created in 1977, Air Gabon has debts estimated at 25 billion CFA francs (38 million euros, 45 million dollars) and is unable to pay either its bills or its staff.

Last year it was obliged to suspend long-haul flights to Europe, which bring in 70 percent of its revenue, for three months because it was left without planes when the lease ran out on its sole serviceable Boeing 767.

RAM, which has a fleet of 37 planes, has struck a similar deal with Air Senegal and is reportedly in discussions about buying a stake in Mauritania's national airline.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 05:54 PM   #190
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Belgium Airline SN Brussels Suspends Flights To Rwanda
28 February 2006

BRUSSELS (AP)--SN Brussels Airlines (SNB.YY) has suspended its twice-weekly flights to Kigali, after one of its planes was grounded in the Rwandan capital for three days last week, the airline said Tuesday.

Rwanda refused to let the Airbus A330-300 with more than 200 people on board take off last Tuesday, saying an inspection showed it had a hydraulic leak, no maintenance compliance records and no date tags on safety seat belts for pilots. The airline insisted the aircraft was safe to fly.

The plane finally took off Saturday, and the government accused Rwandan authorities of blocking the flight because of an airline safety dispute between the two countries. Last year, Belgium imposed a ban on Rwanda's Silverback Cargo Freighters.

SN Brussels has redirected its flights to Nairobi, Kenya. Passengers wishing to fly on to Kigali will have to do so at their own expense, the airline said, adding that it will not resume its service to Rwanda unless it receives guarantees from the authorities that its aircraft will be allowed to leave the Central African country.

SN Brussels' twice-weekly flights to Kigali are the only direct air connections between Rwanda - a former Belgian colony - and Europe.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 07:08 PM   #191
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SN Brussels Resumes Service To Rwanda
2 March 2006
Edited Press Release

BRUSSELS (Dow Jones)-- SN Brussels Airlines (SNB.YY) is happy to announce that its Brussels - Kigali service will resume as from this Saturday the 4th of March, further to a constructive meeting with the Rwandese Authorities today.

SN Brussels Airlines wants to thank all its clients for their understanding and confirms that all its Brussels - Kigali flights are open for reservation.

For your info: SN Brussels Airlines connects the European Capital with Kigali each Tuesday and Saturday. The return flight arrives back in Brussels every Wednesday and Sunday morning.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 10:24 PM   #192
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Kenya Airways voted 'best African airline' by readers of an East African Travel Magazine

Kenya Airways has won six top honours in the 2006 Travel News Awards.

The National flag carrier was voted the 'Best African Airline', 'Best Regional Airline' and 'Best Local Airline'.

It also won for 'Best Business Class' and 'Best Frequent Flyer' programme. The airline's in-flight Msafiri magazine was voted the best in east and central Africa. The poll was carried out by East Africa’s premiere lifestyle, travel and leisure magazine TN (Travel News), and involved 35,000 readers.

It showed that the airline had come out ahead of others in developing a superior route network, as well as offering its customers a world class product. The award scheme, now in its seventh year, relies on reader participation to gauge the excellence of airlines in a number of fields in the tourism sector in East and Central Africa.

Commenting on the honours, Kenya Airways chief executive officer Titus Naikuni said: "These awards are a true recognition of the great work being done by over 3,500 employees of Kenya Airways, who tirelessly work to satisfy our two million customers every year."

The airline recently added Istanbul, Guangzhou and Maputo to its network and will soon launch services to Freetown in Sierra Leone and Paris.
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Old March 8th, 2006, 11:17 PM   #193
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KQ to buy 6 Boeing 'Dreamliners'

National airline Kenya Airways yesterday signed a multi-billion-shilling purchase agreement with a global commercial aircraft manufacturer Boeing Company for the delivery of six Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft.



Chief executive Titus Naikuni said that American plane maker Boeing beat its European rival Airbus on basis of meeting the airline’s need for a fleet that satisfies the rising air travel demand with the highest fuel efficiency. Kenya Airways retired all its Airbus fleet in 2004.

Mr Naikuni declined to say the total cost of the aeroplanes citing confidentiality agreement between Boeing and the airline. However, industry sources say the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is priced at $120 million (Sh8.6 billion) per aircraft. The first four of the six aeroplanes are expected in the country in 2010 and the last two the following year. The 787 Dreamliner aircraft will replace the airline’s Boeing 767s.

"The unmatched performance, range and passenger comfort of the 787 Dreamliner will further enhance Kenya Airways' (KQ's) ability to offer services on routes across the globe," Mr Naikuni said during the signing ceremony at The Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi.

Lease agreement

Kenya Airways currently operates a 21-plane fleet, which includes Boeing 737s, 767s and 777s. The airline also recently announced a lease agreement with Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprises for three 737-800s to be delivered this year.

"We’re proud to have the 787 Dreamliner validated by the extremely competent and thorough assessment team that’s been assembled with Kenya Airways," Mr Lee Monson, Boeing senior vice president for Middle East and Africa, said.

Airbus and Boeing have divergent views on the future of air transport, with Airbus seeing the future in bigger aircraft while Boeing preferring smaller aircraft. Consequently, Airbus has launched A380, with potential seating of 555 passengers, which is the largest commercial jet ever and the Boeing has Boeing 787, carrying up to 250 passengers to nearly 16,000 kilometres and promising lower operating costs.

Mr Monson said the 787 Dreamliner will use 20 per cent less fuel than today’s aeroplanes of comparable size and will provide operators with up to 45 per cent more cargo revenue. "There is a chance for KQ to generate more revenue in terms of carrying more luggage," he said.

Kenya Airways serves more than two million passengers annually.
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Old March 9th, 2006, 07:17 PM   #194
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SE9
Kenya Airways voted 'best African airline' by readers of an East African Travel Magazine

Kenya Airways has won six top honours in the 2006 Travel News Awards.

The National flag carrier was voted the 'Best African Airline', 'Best Regional Airline' and 'Best Local Airline'.

It also won for 'Best Business Class' and 'Best Frequent Flyer' programme. The airline's in-flight Msafiri magazine was voted the best in east and central Africa. The poll was carried out by East Africa’s premiere lifestyle, travel and leisure magazine TN (Travel News), and involved 35,000 readers.

It showed that the airline had come out ahead of others in developing a superior route network, as well as offering its customers a world class product. The award scheme, now in its seventh year, relies on reader participation to gauge the excellence of airlines in a number of fields in the tourism sector in East and Central Africa.

Commenting on the honours, Kenya Airways chief executive officer Titus Naikuni said: "These awards are a true recognition of the great work being done by over 3,500 employees of Kenya Airways, who tirelessly work to satisfy our two million customers every year."

The airline recently added Istanbul, Guangzhou and Maputo to its network and will soon launch services to Freetown in Sierra Leone and Paris.
I´m happy to read this,I´m flying with them for the first time next week and I wasnt sure what to expect.
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Old March 25th, 2006, 08:54 AM   #195
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Egypt to publish report on Sharm el-Sheikh air crash

CAIRO, March 24, 2006 (AFP) - Egypt will publish Saturday its final report into the January 2004 crash of a Flash Airline flight near the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh that left 148 people dead, the civil aviation ministry said.

Among the passengers aboard the Boeing 737 were 134 French holidaymakers, and a representative of the victims' families has said that the report will be a whitewash of the crew's actions.

The press has already said that the report will blame failures on the automatic pilot and the guidance systems.

"The shortage of time did not allow the pilot to remedy" the problem, the long-delayed report supposedly says.

Chief Egyptian investigator Shaker Qelada already said at the end of last year that the pilot himself was not at fault, and that the crash had been caused by technical failures.

But according to unconfirmed reports, French and American experts who have collaborated in the investigation disagree. They reportedly blame the pilot, a former Egyptian air force ace with only limited training on civilian aircraft.

After takeoff, the plane turned right instead of left, and the pilot failed to make the necessary correction because of insufficient time, state news agency MENA reported. The flight crashed only three minutes after takeoff.

Marc Chernet, head of the group defending the interests of the victims' families, said in Cairo that he would present a counter report.

"From what we have been able to find out, the (Egyptian) report is going to exonerate the crew of responsibility and rule that a technical failure was the cause," he said.
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Old March 25th, 2006, 06:26 PM   #196
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Egyptian report blames technical failure on 2004 crash of airliner off Egyptian Sinai resort that killed 148
By LEE KEATH
25 March 2006

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Egyptian investigators said Saturday that technical failures likely caused a January 2004 crash of a passenger jet carrying French tourists from a Red Sea resort that killed all 148 on board, but a French team blamed the Egyptian crew, saying they failed to react quickly enough.

Transcripts from the cabin of Flash Airlines flight FSH604 showed confusion among the crew and problems in switching on the automatic pilot in the seconds after take-off from the resort of Sharm el-Sheik before they realized the plane was veering sharply to the right and began trying to correct it.

The plane crashed into the waters of the Red Sea about three minutes after take-off. The Boeing 737 was carrying 134 French tourists returning home to Paris from the popular resort on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, as well as a Moroccan and 13 Egyptians.

A press conference on Saturday announcing the results of the investigation showed flashes of testiness between the Egyptian and French investigators.

The report issued by the Egyptian commission heading the inquiry cited listed four possible causes for the Jan. 2 crash, all technical -- a fault in the airelons, which controls the aircraft's roll; a temporary jam in either a cable or wheel in the left spoiler, a plate on the wing that regulates lift; or a fault in the mechanism for turning on the autopilot.

As an "exacerbating factor," the report said that the Egyptian pilot, Khadr Abdullah, appeared to have disoriented about the plane's position as the craft apparently banked too far.

But Paul-Louis Arslanian, head of the team from France's Accident Analysis Bureau, told the press conference that the "human factor had a large role" in the accident, blaming "the failure of the crew to quickly deal with the situation."

Shaker Kaladah, the head of the Egyptian investigation, disputed that, saying the crew's reaction was "one of several factors ... there is no direct evidence that the crew was the direct cause."

"The human factor was studied by a team of psychological experts, and it was found that the human factor enters into the accident, but is not the sole cause," he said, adding that the French team's report was included in the final report issued by the investigation.

Though the report listed possible causes, it could not pin down a definitive reason for the crash. "No conclusive evidence could be found ... to determine a probable cause," it said. However, "any combination of these findings could have caused or contributed to the accident."

The problem appears to have occured about two minutes after takeoff, when the pilot requested the autopilot be switched on, according to transcripts released with the report. Five seconds later, the autopilot came on, and the plane began to bank left.

But after two seconds, the autopilot disconnected, and the airelons began movements that put the craft in a bank to the right. "See what the aircraft did," the pilot told his crew. The co-pilot informed him him the plane was banking right. The pilot acknowledged, but seconds later said, "How is it turning right?"

During this period, the report said, an "unusual event" -- apparently a technical fault -- caused a distraction, and the pilot appeared to have been disoriented over the plane's position.

In the next 17 seconds, the pilot may still have been disoriented as he tried to come out of the bank, the report said.

"OK, come out" of the bank, the pilot said, and the roll to the right eases. But then the airelons move again, putting the plane back into a deep right bank. "Overbank," the co-pilot warned as the aircraft reached its highest altitude -- 5,460 feet -- then began to go down.

The pilot repeatedly ordered the autopilot turned on, but it did not activate, even as the airelons only deepened the roll to the right and the co-pilot repeatedly warned "overbank."

Finally, the plane began to correct its rightward roll. The pilot ordered the engines idled to reduce the speed and tried to pull out of the dive, but eight seconds later the craft hit the water.

"Although the crew at the last stage attempted correctly to recover, the gravity of the upset condition in attitude, altitude in speed made this attempt insufficient" to save the craft, the report said.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 04:16 PM   #197
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EU Ban Highlights Trouble in African Skies
By EDWARD HARRIS
27 March 2006

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) - The pilot pressed a flask-sized bottle of vodka to his lips and swallowed deeply before piloting his geriatric aircraft down a jungle runway in eastern Congo. The Antonov flying valuable tin ore and two passengers out of the war-battered region made the trip safely that day. But many others don't.

Citing safety concerns, the European Union banned 92 airlines Wednesday from its airspace. Most of the airlines are from Africa, where planes are six times likelier to crash than elsewhere and travelers swap tales of crises averted.

In announcing the ban on virtually all aircraft overseen by civil aviation authorities in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland and Congo from landing at European airports, EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot labeled many of the planes "flying coffins."

Wednesday's ban and earlier similar orders rankle many Africans. They point out that most of the banned airlines -- like Thom's Airways from Congo -- no longer operate and never fly to Europe anyway, while Africans have little choice but to use them to hop around the world's poorest continent.

The deputy director of the civil aviation in Sierra Leone, which had 13 airlines banned, said his country had not had a safety audit by the main aviation-industry oversight group since the end of the country's brutal 1989-2002 civil war.

Still, "every state has sovereignty over its airspace," said Badara Allieu Tarrawallie.

The troubles in African nations are the same stymieing its aviation industry: poverty, conflict and poor governance. With little oversight, safety audits go undone and small problems are left unattended.

In Nigeria late last year, two planes flying domestic routes crashed within seven weeks of each other killing 224 people, including dozens of schoolchildren heading home for Christmas holidays. The causes of those crashes have not been determined, but Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has referred to an intelligence report detailing safety problems involving Nigerian airlines, including planes experiencing landing gear trouble.

In December, Obasanjo blamed corruption for some of the troubles in his country's aviation industry and called in international experts for a safety review.

A continentwide trend of economic liberalization may be fueling faster-than average passenger growth as former state-owned airlines go private amid new competition -- even as poor governments fail to adapt and oversee the growth.

"You've got the general problem of poverty and lack of government capacity. In Africa, everyone is encouraged to privatize, but there is a very important role of the state, strengthening oversight and regulatory mechanisms as you open up the economy," says Princeton Lyman, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, currently a Council on Foreign Affairs fellow. "We've gone far in one way, but not the other."

Even many of Africa's larger airlines fly secondhand aircraft purchased from overseas.

Many other airlines, particularly in vast Congo, fly rickety old jets or propeller-driven planes, including some old military aircraft converted to passenger aircraft with the addition of plastic patio-style chairs.

Stories proliferate of outrageous misfortune -- like presidents' wives commandeering entire sections of the now-defunct Air Afrique for shopping junkets in Paris, stranding paying passengers behind.

One solution might be banning castoff aircraft from former Soviet-bloc nations. Spare parts can be hard to obtain and some of the aging planes' maintenance documentation has been lost.

"We've witnessed accidents in countries with conflict, like Congo, Angola and Sudan," says Elijah Hingosso, an official with Nairobi, Kenya-based African Airlines Association. "Many of these flights took place in areas outside of government control, so there's no oversight. We've also tended to notice in the past that many aircraft come from the former USSR."

"We're urging governments to stop getting these old aircraft," said Hingosso, who says the number of passengers is growing at between 6 and 7 percent annually -- slightly higher than the global rate.

There are bright spots, including South African Airways, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines. Many African pilots who have honed their skills on the continent's cracked runways are known as skilled navigators of crisis zones. A South African crew runs a route between Amman, Jordan, and Iraq's Baghdad, where the plane approaches the runway in a tight downward corkscrew to avoid ground fire.

Associated Press writers Anjan Sundaram in Kinshasa, Congo, Alexandra Zavis in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Clarence Roy-Macaulay in Freetown, Sierra Leone, contributed to this report.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 04:50 PM   #198
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Plane crash drill in Kenya spreads confusion

NAIROBI, April 6, 2006 (AFP) - Kenyan authorities simulated a major plane crash at Nairobi's main airport Thursday, causing confusion after international reports that a serious accident had occurred.

The exercise -- plans for which had been announced last month -- was aimed at giving emergency workers experience in dealing with a large-scale disaster, but officials gave initial conflicting reports about the alleged accident.

The drill involved the simulated crash of a humanitarian aircraft carrying 80 people from Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Nairobi but some police and airport officials were not told of its actual nature.

"We have just been told that an ECHO flight from Kisangani with 80 passengers on board has crashed," Christine Awando, a flight information officer at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, told AFP immediately after the exercise began.

At the same time however, other more senior officials were telling AFP that the "crash" was in fact a well-planned training exercise, with ambulances and emergency workers responding as if it were real.

"It is a drill and I am currently on the site," said Michael Okwiri, the spokesman for exercise participant Kenya Airways, as international television news networks carried "breaking news" of the accident.

"It is a drill, but we planned it in a way to appear that it was real so that it could help us improve our weakneses," an official with Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) told AFP.

KAA chairman George Muhoho defended the exercise, saying it was part of Kenya's efforts to conform with global aviation demands to improve airport safety.

"The drill is an international requirement that all airports should hold the rescue operations regularly," he told reporters at the scene where swarms of emergency workers and rescue vehicles, including three helicopters, hovered.

"This is to check the state of preparedness should there be a major accident," Muhoho said, as the choppers blew about smoke that billowed from tires set alight to give the "accident scene" a further touch of reality.

"The response was superb," he added.

Muhoho also said false information had been distributed to make the disaster appear real.

"To the foreign media, they can correct (their stories) and say it was an emergency drill," he said. AFP did not report a crash.

Officials said all airlines that operate from the airport as well as other government units had been given advance warning of the drill.

However, police confirmation that a state of emergency had been declared at the airport spurred several international media to report that an actual crash had taken place.

In August 2002, KAA carried out a similar exercise, announcing a major air disaster at the airport involving a British Airways jumbo jet with hundreds of passengers, including an "unnamed prominent Kenyan," and causing similar confusion.

Then, authorities came under fire for injecting too much realism into the emergency drill, while others defended duping the media.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 05:18 PM   #199
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Nigerian airlines announce 20 percent hike in fares

LAGOS, April 6, 2006 (AFP) - Airline operators have announced a 20 percent hike in fares on the domestic routes because of rising cost of aviation fuel and other operational charges, officials said Thursday.

The hike, which would take effect from Monday, was announced in a statement by the Airlines Operators of Nigeria in Lagos.

"From next week, an hour flight will cost 12,000 naira (85 dollars, 69 euros) as against the current fare of 10,000 naira," it said, adding that the increase was necessitated by rising cost of aviation fuel, high administrative cost and a new five percent passenger service charge.

The association said the price adjustment was "inevitable" if airline operators were to "stay afloat".

It said the past weeks have seen airlines grappling with shortages of aviation fuel despite an increase to 72 naira from 61 per litre.

"The situation is such that we are finding it extremely hard to get the product to buy despite the increase in price," a spokesman for private airline Chanchangi, told AFP.

He appealed to air travellers to bear with the operators because "it is a situation we have no control over."
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Old April 7th, 2006, 05:19 PM   #200
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Report: Passengers shun troubled Zimbabwe airline
7 April 2006

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - The loss-making state airline, Air Zimbabwe, carried just 230,000 passengers last year, compared to more than a million in 1999, the official media reported Friday.

Acting chief executive Capt. Oscar Madombwe blamed the decline on negative publicity on political and economic turmoil in the country and a perception of safety concerns among both local and foreign travelers, along with shortages of hard currency, new equipment and gasoline, the state Herald newspaper said.

Madombwe was addressing a panel of lawmakers in Harare on Thursday.

He said some of the airline's planes were nearly 30 years old and passengers mistrusted its newest acquisitions, two small short haul Chinese MA60 aircraft used on domestic routes since last year, preferring what he called Western-manufactured planes.

Madombwe said acute shortages in aviation fuel meant some of its international flights, including regular services to London, were forced to take on fuel in neighboring countries, leading to delays.

Some Western governments issued adverse travel advisories to their nationals on Zimbabwe, the airline chief told the lawmakers.

"There are travel warnings in which travelers are told: 'Go to Zimbabwe at your own risk and maybe you will not come out of there alive.' We are going to embark on campaigns to counter the bad publicity," the Herald quoted him saying.

In November, the airline ran out of jet gasoline and grounded all its services for a day as Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 deepened.

It was the first time the airline's planes were brought to a complete standstill by fuel shortages. Then-chief executive Tendai Mahachi and financial director Tendai Mujuru were fired for their handling of fuel shortages.

Madombwe assured the lawmakers new arrangements had been made to keep the airline flying but did not elaborate.

Zimbabwe is suffering shortages of all types of gasoline. The agriculture-based economy went into free fall after President Robert Mugabe ordered the often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms in 2000.
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