AFRICAN AVIATION OBSERVERS BRACE FOR MORE DUMPING
News from Russia that two major privately owned airlines, Ural Airlines and Kuban Airlines announced earlier in the week that they would phase out their ancient Soviet built aircraft will send shivers down the spines of regular observers of the African aviation scene. In the past Africa has been a dumping ground for in particular cargo planes of Antonov and Iljushin make, which were cheap to acquire but fuel guzzlers of the highest order and the proverbial bitch to maintain.
The many aviation accidents witnessed across the continent, in the Congo DR, the Sudan and elsewhere, Soviet era built aircraft regularly featured, taking hundreds of lives in the process over poor or absent maintenance and lack of prescribed crew training.
While the more foresighted aviation regulators have meanwhile joined the technologically advanced rest of the world in banning these flying monsters, several countries appear still willing to have these types of aircraft registered, giving them certificates of airworthiness and permitting airlines to use them. Subsequently, many of those aircraft now phased out in Russia, following a government directive after a few more fatal accidents, will not go on the scrap heap and be chopped up but likely be sold to African operators and airline owners who know full well what they are getting into, for profit considerations and little else, as if African lives count less than those in Russia. It remains to be seen if the latest wave of decommissioning Soviet era aircraft will once again see Africa become a dumping ground for derelict and very likely very dangerous flying machines often here described as flying coffins. Watch this space.