If it’s not Nigerian, it’s probaly safer! (II)

Last week’s edition was an attempt to present a fair but balancedrebuttal of the thinking and believes of a huge segment of Nigerians, subliminally fed with distorted presumptions of our aviation sector; largely due to years of selective negative press that has aided the way we think and perceive our aviation safety.
No doubt every Nigerian knows about our aviation history and to some extent can be described as not to satisfactory and in every waydreadful, but not totally out of the curve.
To some, our aviation sector symbolizes nothing but” Corruption Nig. Ltd”;wherethe unthinkable happens, and to some all the accidents we have had over time was a clear vindication of their quest to clean up the rot; while some have sworn never to fly on any of our airlines for free; but will rather travel to Ghana to fly internationally.
A greater number in the mix adamantly believes the entire Nigerian airlines should be scrapped until we are ready to run safe airlines, but on the contrary, one will be pleasantly surprised how far Nigerian has gone up the safety ladder and we shouldn’t be seduced to think otherwise because “most mothers do have them”!
Nevertheless, before we send this sector to the abyss, let us see how others are appraised. For instance Israel, a nation visited by many Americans, and Barbados, a popular vacation destination, are among those nations the FAA lists as having insufficient oversight of aviation safety.
The FAA determined 6 years ago precisely in December of 2008 that Israel’s aviation oversight authority was understaffed and its safety regulations were outdated. Although the FAA says Israel’s aviation authority doesn’t meet the standards, the agency still allows the Israeli airline El Al, which has been flying into the USA for decades, to continue flying into the US.
Although an El Al cargo plane had a fatal accident in 1992, but the airline has had no passenger fatalities since 1950, the Aviation Safety Network data reveals. Any foreign airline flying into the USA can continue to do so “under heightened FAA surveillance” after the agency determines the aviation authority in the airline’s home nation doesn’t meet international standards.
Nigeria was on the list until we painstakingly got our category 1 certification in 2009 from FAA. It’s such a serious matter than no airline from Barbados is allowed to fly into the USA until the recertification occurred. John Beale, Barbados’ ambassador to the USA, says he thinks the FAA’s assessment of his country’s aviation oversight was based on too few staff members and the “structure” of the aviation authority.
Another example is Cuba that is not assessed by the FAA because the United States does not have full diplomatic relations with the nation and doesn’t allow direct flights. Many Americans fly to Mexico or Canada to connect to Cuba and many who flew to Havana last year from Cancun complained of unsettling experience on flights operated by Cubana airlines, the island nation’s flagship carrier, whichinterestingly flies to Paris and other major cities of the world.
PlaneCrashInfoInc; a non-governmental organization that compiles accident statistics with a strong and active consumer safety advocates question whether countries such as Russia, China, India and Thailand meet minimum international safety standards, even though the FAA says they do. The accident rates of those countries’ airlines “belie the effectiveness of their civil aviation authorities,” says Mary Schiavo, an aviation lawyer and a former inspector general for the department of transportation.
Mr. kwesiAppia a Ghanaian frequent business traveler was so scared and wonders whether his life was at risk on a flight within Russia two years ago. He was so frightened by his Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Samara, Russia, that he cancelled his booking and switched airlines for his return flight. “The Ilyushin aircraft was so old and felt like it was being held together with duct tape,” says Appia, a vice president of sales for a health technology company.
“It would shudder, shake and make very loud noises”, obviously very scary. PlaneCrashInfoInc; says Aeroflot has a poor fatal accident rate and FAA’s assessments of foreign civil aviation authorities rely largely on self-reporting by nations to determine whether they are compliant with minimum safety standards.
Another safety advocateMs.Bonnie Rind of Newton, USA, thinks otherwise and says she doesn’t think the assessments are thorough or accurate. She says she has brought evidence of bribery, corruption and excessively long duty hours in Thailand’s aviation system to FAA officials assessing the country’s civil aviation authority, but they have turned their backs on the information.
Her brother, Stefan Woronoff, was among 90 people, including four other Americans, who were killed when a plane flown by a Thai airline, One-Two-Go, crashed in Phuket, Thailand, in September 2007. The FAA says it’s aware of Rind’s concerns and has followed up with the Thai government about safety improvements since the accident, but some insiders says State Department relations with a nation are a factor in the FAA’s assessments and “saw firsthand” the State Department’s influence in FAA ratings.
She further said FAA decided some countries didn’t meet minimum standards, but State Department intervened and the FAA changed its assessments; however not so FAA says;because State Department relations with a foreign country do not influence the FAA’s reviews. The agency says its assessment program has been successful during the past 20 years, because the number of countries not meeting minimum international safety standards has dropped from about two-thirds of the countries evaluated.
No matter how many countries the FAA says meet international safety standards, the agency’s disregard for first hand evidence about Thai aviation shows that the FAA’s assessments are not to be trusted sometimes. In conclusion, Nigeria aviation is still worthy of a chance to grow.

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