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Platform for Aeronautical Information Services in Africa crucial


Accra, May 15, GNA - Mr George Crankson, President of the Ghana Aeronautical Information Service Association, said on Monday that the lack of a common platform for Aeronautical Information Service practitioners in Africa was affecting efficiency and appropriate remuneration.

"Globally, pilots, Air Traffic Controllers, Air Traffic Safety Electronic Officers among other groups are able to influence government and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in terms of policy formulation because they speak with one voice through their various organisations."

Mr Crankson made this observation at the celebration of the World Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) Day in Accra. The day, which falls on May 15, is on the theme: "Efficient Aeronautical Information Database Management, the Key to Air Safety in Africa."

Also in the country to participate in the celebration are delegates from Angola, Namibia, Cameroon, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Senegal and Nigeria.

The event will also see the launch of the Africa Aeronautical Information Service Association.

"Our situation must change", Mr Crankson said and commended participants from other African countries who have agreed to form an association to help address their issues "to make the dream come true". He assured governments and Civil Aviation Authorities the world over that the formation of the African Association was to complement their efforts to enhance productivity and efficiency on the continent. Mr Crankson appealed to the government and the Ghana Civil Aviation Board to consider setting up a National Aviation Training institute either at the Sunyani Airport or the former Afienya Gliding School. He said the school should be integrated to train professionals in various aspects of aviation such as pilots, aircraft mechanics, and air traffic controllers who would be awarded degrees and diplomas at the end of their training.

Mr Crankson said research had already shown that about 80 percent of what was needed to set up the school was available. Mr George Gyasi, Assistant Director, Air Traffic Services, said civil aviation in Africa was bedevilled by several challenges. He called for a pragmatic look at current and future technologies in communication, navigation and surveillance as well as Air the Traffic Management System, to improve upon safety in direct response to the expected growth within the Aviation industry.

Mrs Titilayo Owolabi-Akereliof, of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency and Chairperson, Joint Aviation Professionals Coalition, said the Air transport industry in Africa accounted for 4 percent of global air traffic, even though Africa formed about 13 percent of the world population.

She said this happened "in a global air transport industry that generated 400 billion US dollars (11 percent of global Gross Domestic Product) and nearly three trillion globally generated economic activities (IATA, 2005)".

Mrs Owolabi-Akereliof observed that failure to identify the setbacks and deficiencies would amount to self-deceit saying, "These are surmountable problems if only the will and determination is guaranteed." She deplored the situation where Africa accounted for 27 percent of global aircraft accidents, adding that there was the need for African governments to pay more attention to the evolution of aviation and invest more in its growth.

"Safety is a system; Individual desperate actions carried out in isolation may not necessarily result in safety. A Risk Management System should be put in place in Africa."

Mrs Owolabi Akereliof commended President John Agyekum Kufuor for granting approval to the Director General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority for recent structural changes in the Ghanaian Aviation Industry, describing it as a step in the right direction. Nii Adu Mansa-Badoo, Acting Director General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), chaired the occasion. The celebration of the World Aeronautical Service day is in line with the standards and recommended practices for AIS, which was first adopted by the council on 15th May 1953.

This is in line with the provision of article 37 to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.