Kenya: Bloggers’ Reactions to Plane Crash

This is a brief overview of what Kenyan bloggers are saying about the tragic accident involving a Kenya Airways plane, which has crashed in Southern Cameroon. The plane, Boeing 737-800, was enroute from Abidjan, Ivory Coast to Nairobi, Kenya with 114 passengers on board.

Kenya Airways is the fifth largest airline in Africa and has more transcontinental flights than any other African airline. The last time a Kenyan plane crashed was in 2000 in West Africa.

Kumekucha starts with a bit of history for context:

There is something about Abidjan airport in Ivory Coast) and Kenya Airways. In the entire history of this very popular African airline (since inception in 1977 from the ashes of the East African Community owned East African Airways) that is today probably the busiest over African skies, it has had only two crashes. Both have been in the last 7 years and both have closely involved the Abidjan airport.

Al Kags reports from Nairobi:

Kenya Airways Managing Director, Titus Naikuni and Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua have just concluded a press conference where they gave the latest information regarding the missing Kenya Airways flight KQ 507 in Cameroon.
In the statement they said that they have been able to so far identify 3 of the 6 people whose nationalities were unidentified. They found that two of the people were from Equatorial Guinea and one from Mauritius. The reason some of the nationalities were unknown is that even though Kenya Airways has a flight manifest, the details of Nationality normally are with Cameroon immigration, from whom they are getting the information, albeit slowly.

Mr. Naikuni brought to the conference his head of engineering, who described the flight path that the plane was to have taken from Abidjan over Douala onwards. He showed that the area where a distress signal was received from the missing flight was and that is in a dense equatorial forest south of the flight path closer to Yaounde.

I think, therefore I blog reacts to the shocking news with a single sentence:

another one went down…..again….?

The situation in Nairobi:

Families of the 9 crew members are gathered at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and at the passenger crisis centre that has been set up at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi. The general mood in Nairobi is apprehensive as memories of the catastrophic KQ crash at Abidjan in 2000 come alive and concern for the missing plane increases by the hour.

The accident has prompted discussions about the quality of aircrafts and the safety of Africa's skies. The Diary of One Black Man wonders why Africa is prone to air accidents:

This rekindles the age old debate ..How safe is it to fly in Africa?
Why is Africa prone to air accidents? I could go on and give you a laundry list of all the reasons. Here is a continent that is struggling with financial problems. These countries get these airplanes through the “throw-them-a-bone” programme by the west which happens every once a decade so that the west can be seen as doing something. The fact that these countries do not have the parts, manpower or technology to maintain these planes is almost irrelevant. The same reasons as to why road carnage is so high in Africa will apply here!

Commenting on this post, Mental Acrobatics notes that the plane that crashed was only six months old and not a “throw-them-a-bone” aircraft:

The plane that went down was collected from Boeing in October 2006 and
went into use at Kenya Airways in November 2006. That is is just six
months ago. This was not some ramshackle “th[r]ow them a bone” aircraft.

Kenya Entrepreneur is not sure about flying Kenya Airways, which used to be his first choice of African airlines:

I had already boiled down the African airlines that I would fly to two: Kenya airways was one and South African airlines was the second. Now, I don’t know if I’d want to fly Kenya Airways again. I’m sorry…..this is the second fatal accident in less than ten years and it is going to be a huge public relations dilemma for Kenya airways, which is operating under the cloud that African airlines have one of the worst safety records in the world.

And don’t tell me accidents can happen to anyone. Kenya airways does not fly that many flights compared to the larger international carriers like British airways or Lufthansa.

Nigerian Airlines is out of the question:

So, let’s say I want to fly from Nairobi to Abuja and I want to get to my destination alive. What choices do I have? If I’m suicidal, I’ll obviously fly Nigerian airlines, but if I’m not, what do I do? do I have to fly British airways and go through London, then turn around and come back to Africa? & why have both accidents occurred in West Africa?

Kenyan Analyst is not shaken. He writes:

That said, I will still fly KQ anytime, anywhere.

Mental Acrobatics fears that hysteria might take over the debate about the safety of Africa's skies. He writes a brilliant post arguing that Africa's skies is not the worst in the world:

After the tragedy this morning with the loss of Kenya Airways flight KQ507 with 114 people on board I am more or less sure that a big debate will sprout up on how safe Africa’s skies are and on how safe African airlines are. This post aims to put some facts on the ground before hysteria takes over the debate.

The plane involved in the incident today was a brand new Boeing 737-800. The plane was collected from Boeing in October 2006 and went into service in November 2006. No ramshackle plane this. These Next-Generation 737 are the newest and most technologically advanced single-aisle airplane in the business today. It flies higher, faster and farther than previous models and competitors. In addition, its flight deck features the latest liquid-crystal flat-panel displays and is designed to accommodate new communications and flight-management capabilities.

It appears that “lumping all countries into one category” is part of the “problem” with Africa's skies:

Last year the IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said, “Africa is our biggest concern. While the continent represents just 4 percent of total air traffic worldwide, it accounts for 25 percent of the accidents.” All this following a decision by the European Commission in March 2006 to publish a “blacklist” of 92 airlines, dominated by African airlines, that it banned from European skies because of poor safety records. The “blacklist” includes 50 airlines registered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 13 from Sierra Leone, 11 from Equatorial Guinea, 6 from Swaziland and 3 from Liberia. (Yes that was FIFTY from the DRC!)…Africa is a big place. You lump all the countries into one category you are going to have problems no matter what you are talking about.

Bankelele dismisses the whole question of plane crashes in Africa…”they happen all around the world“:

The question of air crashes in Africa should not arise – they happen all around the world. Yes, there are bad airlines, but it is not an African thing. Poorly run airlines do not last for very long as passengers avoid them (unless they have no alternative) and authorities (should) step in and shut them down. The (unfortunate) passenger list produced by KQ is an endorsement of the high regard that other nations have for the airline.

This is a tragic time, as are all plane crashes when they happen. This time, it has happened to Kenya Airways (KQ), an airline with an exemplary safety level.

I flew on KQ this week and will gladly fly with them tomorrow or any other day.

Finally, Kenya Bytes remembers the families, friends, and relatives of the passengers:

I would wish to extend my condolences to the families, friends and relatives of those who perished when KQ Flight 507, bound for Nairobi with 115 people aboard, crashed shortly after it took off from Douala in Cameroon on Saturday morning. To all concerned I say pole sana.

55 comments

  • noel

    People may be quick to blame the African skies, but the cause of the accident is not yet known what if it is a design defect on the plane, these are marvelous machines and very fragile so Boeng may also be answerable.if we are to look into safty records some african airlines have better records than the european ones and if we are to rank them airline by air line you will be suprised to see the top positions taken by African airlines. The problem with western coutries when it comes to femine, war, zero safty, hiv, or anything nagative they take the African continent as one contry instead of taking case by case and country by country

  • Mwai

    I think its sad that some people who have very little info about aviation and how planes run are the one speculating about the crash. If you want to know how other airlines in Africa have faired visit http://www.aviation-safety.net its a site run by the authorititive aviation safety network and you will see airlines like Egypt air SAA have a bad record and cant be compared to KQ .KQ is the safest airline to fly with the whole of Africa and was the first one to attain the IOSA IATA OPERATIONAL SAFETY AUDIT.eGYPYT and SAA failed Et is yet to apply.
    KQ operates the youngest fleet in Africa including the Boeing 777 which no other aircraft has apart from Egypt air which has one. I have worked for KQ and i have flown the Doula Abidjan and from Uganda,
    Central African Republic and then Cameroon , Congo,
    the weateher is terrible and there is turbulence,heavy tropical rainfall accompanied by thunder and lightening. Even ICAO INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY is
    aware of the hazard in that route.But as of now we have to wait for the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder to unfold the cause of the crash.

  • Diana

    God bless Kenya Airways, God bless Kenya. Let us not forget the good that the airline had done for so long.

  • Nicholas Osiemo

    let us be objetive and face the facts; air crashes occur all the time. The last five of ten air crashes in the world have involved Boengs 737s including the two that went down in the Indonesia archipelago recently. It shocks me when ‘educated’ people become prejucidicial the moment the word Africa is mentioned. We have to draw a line between airlines and skies; Kenya airways is a world class airline twith an impressive safety record that competes PROFITABLY with major world carriers. It is the airline that has taken the major risk of opening the African skies through an efficient route network covering areas where even armed ‘peacekeepers’ avoid and has proofed thatafrican can afford and equally enjoy air travel- air travel is not a preserve of some’developed’ club of nations.The aircraft was a modern brand new jet by aircraft standards – 6 months old; not some old 1960 bucket playing odds to hop a 100 mile stretch. The debate should first centre on the investigation; was it human error or faulty equipment. Boeng and the US NTSB should tell us which. Secondly, the debate should centre on whether African skies (country specific no collective) are safe and if they have the neccessary support mechanisms for an increasing air traffic (competence of controllers, accuracy and reliability of critical data such as weather e.t.c) I am a proud African and an extremely proud Kenyan. I can smell a conspiracy by competition to use an unfortunate accident to ground an otherwise succesful african showcase airline. Several American and European airlines have gone backruptfor mismangement. Can we not appreciate our own? i agree there are some in diaspora who left Africa so long ago they have never come back they still thick people use handcarts to go to work.

  • Mwai

    Whoever wanted to have the list of passengers its available currently by typing http://www.kenya-airways.com

  • Waters

    The planes may be new, the skies safe but with the wrong people on the job..we are likely to hear things like pilot error causing accidents.

    However i think Kenya airways is a safe airline,but Boeing may be producing unsafe aircraft, 5 737s have crashed in the recent past going less than 15 years out of the 1000 sold during the period.This is a saddening percentage considering that these are human lives involved.

  • giorgio bellini

    good afternoon,
    i totally agree with the friends even if am italian am in kenya almost 6 times per year and ofently i take KQ via amsterdam or for the internal flights what hurt me is really the total no professional behaviour of the Cameroon Civil Aviation (that have a big resonsabilities in this event)and KQ managements..I explain you why: if really the weather conditions were so bad with a big risk of wing share NOBODY in the world give OK to take off is too dangerous and you know with the nature no jokes…and the big responsibility of the RESCUE if is probithed conditions to fly for them WHY THEY GIVE THE OK TO TAKE OFF TO KQ?…i really cant accept some offence that in africa skies r not safe are not safe coz the people is not trained correctly…KQ management coz sincerely from the largest african flight company i will expect a differ
    ent treatment…almost for the respect of the victim’s families and i want to go ahead and have clarifications am disposed to legal prosecuted the CCAA and KQ managemen
    hoing to have a response seriously soon
    best regards and good job
    giorgio bellini
    Venice Italy
    CEO of EXPRESSWAY Car Rental LTD

  • C Coleman

    I have flown with KQ and I will do so again. An accident can happen to anyone, anywhere. It is not a accident particular to Africa. Condolences to all the victims of this tragedy.

  • Honorary Wangeci

    There are just as many crashes happening elsewhere in the world than in Africa. I have travelled on KQ and will do so again in a heartbeat.

    I have lost a friend in this tragedy, and my condolences to her family, colleagues and the rest of the victims’ families and friends.

  • Pam

    I am also looking for a manifest of names. My friend went to Africa for the first time in his life hunting with his brother and a friend and I don’t know if he was on this flight or not. They are 3 Americans. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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