Question: What do you think about aviation in Africa in general?
– Lesedi, South Africa
Answer: African aviation has some challenges. Some operators use older airplanes and the maintenance is not up to global standards. The environment can be problematic and some airports on the continent lack good infrastructure. These elements in combination result in a higher accident rate than in other parts of the world. Despite these challenges, aviation safety in Africa has improved over the years. There are some very dedicated safety professionals at work continuing the improvements. Overall, I would say that aviation in Africa is improving, but significant challenges remain. High quality operators and regulators working together can make a big difference.
Q: Dear Captain, which is the safest airline in Africa according to statistics?
– Kato Geoffrey
A: Africa has had challenges over the years. There are many good airlines operating in Africa, to name two: South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines. I know pilots from both of these airlines and both are committed to safety. Statistically, both of these airlines are on par with other global operators and are highly respected.
Q: Is there a particular jet aircraft you do NOT like to fly and why?
– Matt Helm, New York City
A: I have seen some older, ill-maintained jets in Africa usually flying cargo that I would not want to fly. These are sometimes Russian airplanes from the 1960s and are leaking fluids and loaded with extreme amounts of cargo. The concern is more the maintenance and the potential for overloading than the airplane itself.
Q: If an emergency happened during a flight from South Africa to Sydney, what would a pilot do?
– Vin, New Jersey
A: It depends on the emergency. On that flight there are fewer than usual alternate airports available. Modern airplanes have redundant systems that allow them to fly safety for hours in the event of an engine failure (a very, very rare event) or other system problems. All overwater routes have designated diversion points. A pilot with a problem in flight will carefully assess the options and make the best decision based on the safety of the flight.
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