ISSUE No. 04/08


The Kenya Airports Authority has invited stakeholders to a Meeting about the “Congestion” at Wilson Airport. The meeting is scheduled at the Wilson Airport Social Hall, near Wilson Police Station, at 1430 hours on 7 May 2008.

Operators and pilots are particularly concerned about the requirement that ALL aircraft MUST taxi to the Terminal before and after each flight, for a “Security Check”. They maintain that the requirement leads to ‘congestion’, is costly, time-consuming, ineffective, unnecessary, and above all, unsafe. Nowhere in the world is such a mandate in place. To prove their point, Operators point to many ‘close calls’ of passengers walking into propellers, and to the recent collision at the Terminal between two aircraft. They have already indicated that the mandate is an infraction of ICAO, KCAA and FAA Regulations and will bring this matter to the attention of the ICAO auditors who will begin their safety and security audit of Kenya in June.

In readiness for tomorrow’s meeting, which as many pilots and operators as possible are urged to attend, the Aero Club has released an ‘Aide Memoire”, shown below, to assist in the discussion. The Aero Club points out that If the Recommendations of the air operators had been implemented years ago, Millions of dollars would have been saved in airplane taxiing costs and security staff expenses. This could have paid many times over for the modern CCTV system, the apron monitoring stations, and the photo ID system for Pilot licences.


The Requirement to Taxi to the Terminal for Security Checks:

Opinions of the Air Operators about the Reasons given for the Requirement by the Government Authorities 


Justification by the Government Officials

Opinion of the Air Operators and Pilots


“It’s an ICAO Requirement”

False. Annex 17 of ICAO SARPS does not say that. Security must be tailored to the threat and risk. Wilson is the only airport in the world where such a requirement exists for aircraft under 5700 kg all up weight.


“The Americans asked for this”

False. The FAA and the Transportation Security Agency have not asked for this. It is not required anywhere in the USA.


“It’s because of illegal immigrants and arms smuggling from Somalia.”

False. No aircraft take off from, or land at, Wilson anymore to/from Somalia or the North-eastern Province. They all are cleared at Wajir and JKIA.


“Due to its history and layout, Wilson is different from other airports”

False. Most airports have a runway and hangars/terminals fronting taxiways and runways. Most larger airports have a fence. What’s “different” at Wilson?


“It’s the most economical way for the Government to check contents of all arriving and departing aircraft”

False. It is extremely expensive. It costs aircraft operators about $ 10,000 per day ($ 3.65 Million per year) in terms of fuel and aircraft utilization to comply with this mandate. It costs the Government dozens of security personnel to be on duty.


“There is no other way”

False. There is a better way, suggested by the air operators in their comprehensive proposals to the KAA in April 2007. So far, no reply has been received.


“It’s done at other similar airports”

False. KAA and the operators went to South Africa last year and found that at Lanseria and other RSA airports similar to Wilson, the taxiing to the Terminal was only required for Aircraft above 5700 kg, scheduled flights and international flights”. ICAO approved the South African way.


“We have resolved congestion at Wilson Airport by removing derelict aircraft and creating more apron space”

Maybe so, but to the air operators, “congestion” is only an issue at the Terminal where too many aircraft have to manouevre. The recent collision of the Caravan with the Buffalo are proof of that.


“It is not unsafe”

Yes it is. It is extremely unsafe to have passengers walk about amidst aircraft with propellers turning. There have been many ‘close calls’. It is against ICAO and KCAA safety regulations. What is more important? Addressing a non-existent security risk or a real safety issue?


 “Wilson ATC can handle it”

KCAA controllers are already overburdened with control of flying aircraft. There is no need to increase their workload with countless radio clearances for taxiing and crossing runway 14.


 “It is not an inconvenience”

False. Forcing each aircraft to taxi to the Terminal is time-consuming and it makes little sense to force all passengers of private or charter flights to undergo security checks and screening. Unlike in scheduled flights, these passengers are known to the air operators or tour companies.


“This is the only way to ensure 100 % security”

False. The only 100% way is to stop aviation. There are over 600 unchecked and unmanned  airfields in Kenya where pilots with sinister motives could land or depart. In fact, pilots do not even need an airfield to land or depart. Any road or flat piece of terrain would suffice. It is unrealistic and impossible to control all aircraft movements.


“This is the only way to prevent terrorist bombings and smuggling of arms and illegal immigrants”

False. 99 %of all terrorist attacks are undertaken with suicide bombers on foot or in motor vehicles. Since September 11, not one terrorist has used an aircraft. Smuggling can take place with boats,  cars, donkeys, on foot, etc., at any Kenyan border or coastline. There is no need to use expensive airplanes.






“Aircraft are vehicles for terrorist bombings”.



False. Small aircraft, such as 90 % of the Kenyan fleet, are Cessnas and Pipers that can carry a smaller explosives or fuel  payload than any motor car. They have a minor effect if used for a bombing.


 “The Government has to control Security because air operators or pilots cannot be trusted”

False. Pilots and air operators have a great interest in preventing terrorism and illegal or criminal acts, because such activities reflect on them and would ruin their flying business. They are PARTNERS in the battle against terrorism. The TSA and FAA in the USA have recognized that. When will Kenya?


“There is no better way”

The air operators have made many recommendations, including: Security kiosks on each of Wilson’s aprons, from which security officers can monitor what is loaded or unloaded from aircraft. Other recommendations are: a secure apron at the terminal for large aircraft and scheduled flights, photo ID’s for pilots, CCTV Cameras on the airfield, spot checks by roaming security officials, etc.


Kenya Shell has just advised today (6 May 2008) that “Bulk Supplies” of AVGAS have run out again, for “reasons beyond our control”. Kenya Shell hopes that supplies will return to normal in a week or so. The Aero Club has written to Shell, asking for clarification and more details.


The Aero Club’s web-based Airfield Manual for East Africa is growing. Pilots are now uploading airfield information and photos onto the new web site and it is expected that over 100 airstrips will be uploaded within the next few months. All pilots are urged to take photos of the airfields into which they fly. Aerial as well as ground shots are required.

The Club wants to make this the most accurate and up-to-date airfield data base for East Africa. For further information, and uploading of airfields, please go to www.aeroclubea.net


Over the next few months, ICAO inspectors will swarm into Kenya’s aviation authorities to assess the state of the aviation sector. At issue are the regulatory framework, staff qualifications and competence, safety, security, etc. The Government and the tourist industry have an interest in ensuring that ICAO standards are met, so that international airlines can continue to operate to/from Kenya. ICAO is less interested in small commercial operations that operate locally, flying aircraft of less than 5700 kg AUW, and it is completely disinterested the minor aviation disciplines such as private aviation or microlights and gyrocopters. Nevertheless, the ICAO inspectors will look at the overall aviation environment.

The Kenyan air operators are planning to meet with the ICAO auditors to present to them their views about some of the KAA and KCAA requirements and their ways of addressing certain aviation issues. Operators will also seek clarification about the SARPS and Annexes. They maintain that KAA and KCAA do not fully understand what ICAO requires from its member States and that this has led to rules that are meant mainly for large airliners being applied wrongfully to general and sport aviation. This is injuring the growth of flying in Kenya.


The Aero Club is planning to hold its “NAVEX” on the week-end of 13-15 June. The purpose of the event is for a crew (pilot and navigator) to fly their aircraft along a route, on track and on time (to the second). Crews are given a map and co-ordinates of turning points to guide them. GPS or other navigation devices are not permitted on board. Marshallers will be placed in secret locations of the route to detect timings and any violations of the rules.

The rally will kick off from Orly Airport at 10 o’clock on 13 June, ending the day at Taita Hills Lodge. En route, crews will be given other tasks to perform. On 14 June crews will have a rest day on which they can give aviation demonstrations at the lodge. This may include spot landing competitions, balloon bursting, streamer cutting, etc. Model aircraft demos and skydiving displays will also form part of this ‘mini-air show’. On 15 June, crews will fly the return leg of the rally, again back to Orly.

The entry fee is Kshs. 10,000 and awards will be given. This promises to be a fun week-end and all pilots, including beginners and pros, are urged to participate. For further information or registration, please contact Captains Eric Boullay, Chris Hardisty or Ashif Lalani. Please indicate crew, aircraft, and desired average speed range (within + or – 5 knots) for purposes of seeding.


All those interested in the types, sizes and numbers of aircraft in Kenya, and other interesting statistics, can now find the up-to-date (March 31,  2008) KENYA AIRCRAFT REGISTER on the Aero Club Web Site www.aeroclubea.net. It shows that the vast majority of aircraft is below 5700 kg All Up Weight. You can check the data entered for your aircraft. Any errors and omissions should be sent to Mr. Hitler Olwenge, Air Traffic Services, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, holwenge@kcaa.or.ke.

Aero-News is published as a service to Members of the Aero Club of East Africa, to keep them informed about aviation in East Africa. Contributions are welcome. If you have some comments or suggestions, do not wish to receive this newsletter, or if you want to be added to the mailing list, please send a message to Harro V. Trempenau, Chairman, Aero Club of East Africa, harro@trumpetnose.com

Harro Trempenau
Aero Club of East Africa