Airlines face age-cap on aircraft

The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has proposed the placement of a cap on the age aircraft permitted to fly from the airspace controlled by Ghana, known as the Accra Flight Information Region, as a way of checking recent aviation incidents in the sub-region.

Acting Deputy Director-General (Technical) of the GCAA, Martey Boye Atoklo, told the B&FT “we want to look at what's happening in other jurisdictions. Nigeria, for example, has a cap of 18 years and below. If an aircraft is over 18 years in Nigeria, it won't get an operating certificate.”

 “I think that as a nation we have to look at it again, involve all the stakeholders and then come up with, it possible, a cap. For now, there is no cap on ageing aircraft,” he added.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a press briefing to address the incident involving Starbow's Takoradi-bound aircraft that was compelled to make an emergency landing at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), after a hydraulic failure was detected by the pilot 15 minutes into the 45-minute flight.

The British Aerospace 146 series, aircraft made an emergency landing at about 16:00GMT on Tuesday. Its age was given as 25 years, triggering the current debate about | whether old aircraft should be licenced to fly in the country.

The airline in a statement said: “The incident occurred after take-off. The, captain detected a technical problem that emanated from a hydraulic system failure. The captain made the right decision in accordance with standard procedures and decided to return to base.

“The aircraft landed smoothly, and during the taxiing phase to the airport stand the Fire Service Personnel observed some smoke come from the brakes – which had heated as a result of the braking action and the high-speed landing.”

There were 56 passengers on board, with one infant. Flight 124 landed safely, but two passengers sustained minor injuries during the evacuation exercise.

On Thursday the GCAA announced it had temporarily grounded the last remaining aircraft of Starbow, lo check the plane's integrity before it is allowed to fly again.

Starbow owns and operates four British Aerospace 146 series aircraft; however, two have been out of service. One of the remaining two was involved in the incident on Tuesday, leaving just one functioning aircraft which has now been grounded.

Similar incidents and serious accidents within the sub-region in the last decade are thought to have informed the imposition of the cap by the Nigerian civil aviation authority.

Mr. Atoklo said, “we need to do the same as a nation. It could be better than Nigeria's. Old aircraft can be safe as new ones so long as you are doing your maintenance checks, and following the manuals. But once others have started putting caps on ageing aircraft, you would want to follow suit”.