Aero-News - 15 January 2008
No. 01/08

Teams of specialists of the Kenya Airports Authority, supported by counterparts from Ministry of Transport and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, are travelling around the country to look at airstrips, identifying those that could/should be improved. This is good news as several strips have recently been rehabilitated, including Ol Kiombo, Mtito Andei, Keekorok, South Horr Boma, South Horr Main, etc.

Kenya Airports Authority has confirmed at a recent Air Operators' Committee Meeting that licenced pilots do indeed have the right to access Kenyan airport aprons to get to their aircraft, whilst on duty. The required ID is a valid pilots' licence and only the "Original' of the licence is acceptable. Photocopies are not sufficient.

This means that licenced pilots DO NOT actually require an official KAA Airport Pass to access the airside of Kenyan airports. However, practically speaking, a "CREW CARD' issued by the employer of the pilot is a great asset. The Aero Club of East Africa is now studying the modalities of issuing Crew Cards to those members, who as 'Private Pilots' do not work for a company and thus do not get 'Crew Cards'. The proposed ACEA IAOPA-KENYA Crew Card will be a 'photo ID' .

Kenya Airports Authority has confirmed at a recent Air Operators' Committee Meeting that tourists and casual users of Wilson Airport are indeed allowed to take snapshots on the field, except photographs of state and military aircraft, uniformed personnel and Government facilities like the Police Airwing.

Kenya Shell has confirmed that bulk AVGAS will not be available at Malindi and Wilson Airports until 'early February'. Some packaged AVGAS, in drums, is still on offer at Wilson and Malindi, but at a much higher cost (about 25% more than 'bulk'). This shortage has been acute since early January, when charter flights were at an all-time high in Kenya. It is expected that the tanker with the AVGAS will dock at Mombasa later this week. The product must then be cleared by the KRA, tested for contamination, and transported to the outlets at the airports. Until then, the skies of Kenya will be quiet.

In a newspaper advertisement on 14 January, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority announced that it will hold "Sensitization Workshops" for stakeholders, to inform them about the modalities of introducing the Draft Kenya Civil Aviation Regulations (KCARS). The KCARS have apparently already been gazzetted and will become law effective 1 April 2008. The workshops will be held at the East African School of Aviation on 24 and 25 January, beginning at 9 am.

This controversial announcement conflicts with the understanding of the Aero Club of East Africa and the Kenya Association of Air Operators, who have been engaged in dialogue about the KCARS with the Ministry of Transport and the KCAA, under the Chairmanship of MoT Under-Secretary Koech. The purpose of that Committee is to address all concerns of the stakeholders regarding the KCARS and to reach consensus with KCAA on a number of grave issues affecting the aviation industry and pilots. Only once these issues have been resolved in this high-level committee was the one-year sensitization period begin. The Committee has not yet presented its work to the Minister, and yesterday's KCAA newspaper announcement effectively makes the Koech Committee's work meaningless.

Aircraft operators and aviators are concerned that there are still many, many proposed rules and regulations in the Draft KCARS that threaten the very survival of aviation in Kenya. Also, in some cases, rules that should be there have simply been ignored or forgotten by the KCAA Drafters. Generally, Stakeholders maintain that the over 1400 pages of rules were drafted by relatively unqualified staff who not only require lessons in grammar and spelling, but also know very little about some of the specialized subject matter of the KCARS. The Draft KCARS, as gazzetted, have also not incorporated the views and recommendation of the air operators and pilots, (i.e. the main target group that is to be "controlled" by the KCAA). Quips one pilot: "All the past talk about partnership between KCAA and the aviators was "******". KCAA is using bulldozer tactics to screw us into the ground. In their quest to make aviation perfectly safe from the unscrupulous operators and incompetent pilots, they are wrapping us all into a bureaucratic maze. The Government would do better to save lives by regulating the matatu industry and improving roads, than to bring the only functioning mode of transport in Kenya, namely aviation, to a standstill". Thousands of people die on Kenya's roads every year, and very few die in aviation accidents. Yet, there seems to be a disproportionately intensive regulatory and enforcement intervention in air transport in Kenya. To wit, the new KCARS propose fines of several million shillings if a pilot forgets to advise KCAA of his change of address. There are hundreds of other bizarre regulations in the KCARS. You can download the KCARS as a PDF File on the KCAA web site www.kcaa.or.ke under the 'Downloads Page'.

Aero Club members are also worried because KCAA staff have little knowledge about ultralight aircraft, parachuting, gliders, Light Sport Aircraft, Ballooning, Agricultural Aviation, Helicopter Lifting, etc. These subjects were discussed and amendments agreed with the KCAA counterparts on the "Koech Committee", but in the final version of the Regulations, the KCAA simply left them out. "They listen politely, but at the end, they simply do whatever they want, or they use that tried and tested method of conflict resolution - keep mum and do nothing".

KCAA drafters of the KCARS maintain that it is not necessary to have knowledge about specialized aviation disciplines and state that they will hire experts in these fields to enforce the rules. That may be so, but stakeholders are concerned that the costs for the convoluted enforcement bureaucracy will have to be borne by operators.

The method chosen by KCAA to introduce the KCARS without seeking consensus with the operators and pilots is not likely to be accepted meekly. It is not clear why the Ministry of Transport formed a Stakeholder-KCAA Committee to review the KCARS and did not let this Committee complete its work.

The recent taxiing collision near the "Terminal" at Wilson Airport between a DHC 6 Buffalo and a Cessna Caravan, in which several people were injured and both aircraft damaged, was predicted by air operators at many meetings with KAA and KCAA. For years now, the Kenya Association of Air Operators and the Aero Club of East Africa have warned that the requirements to make all aircraft taxi to the Terminal for a police check before and after each flight, was dangerous, ineffective, a waste of money and contrary to international aviation practice. As far as is known, Wilson Airport is the only international airport in the world where this dangerous requirement exists.

Earlier in 2007, the Aero Club and the KAOAO had submitted a 45 page study and Powerpoint presentation to the KAA, suggesting that the taxiing to the inspection at the Terminal be abolished. Constructive options for security checks were suggested. So far, the KAA has not responded to the document, but a Committee had been set up by KAA to study ways and means of "reducing congestion" at the Terminal.

The practice of taxiing to the Terminal, where boarding and disembarking passengers walk around aircraft with turning propellers, costs air operators collectively some $ 10,000 per day. Air Traffic Controllers are also affected, because they spend a high percentage of their time and attention on monitoring aircraft that are "driving around" needlessly on Wilson Airport.

With the accident, the worst fears of air operators have come true. They have requested a meeting with Managing Director of KAA, George Muhoho, to try and obtain his agreement to waive the taxiing requirement. Air Operators have proven in their studies that only aircraft above an All-up Weight of 5700 kg, and aircraft on regularly-scheduled flights or international flights, should have to taxi to the Terminal for an inspection and for boarding/disembarking of passengers. So far, this international rule has failed to come to the attention of the Kenya Government agencies that have created the mandate.

Harro Trempenau
Aero Club of East Africa