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Africa Calls for More Investment in Air Traffic Control


FILE - In this May 21, 2015 file photo, an air traffic controller works in a tower at Newark Liberty International Airport. African air traffic safety and security experts are calling for more investment to guarantee safe air travel on the continent.

FILE - In this May 21, 2015 file photo, an air traffic controller works in a tower at Newark Liberty International Airport. African air traffic safety and security experts are calling for more investment to guarantee safe air travel on the continent.

African air traffic safety and security experts are calling for more investment to guarantee safe air travel on the continent.

Ghanaian-born Africa aviation expert, Osei Bonsu, said Africa accounts for barely five percent of global air traffic but reported 20 percent of accidents and fatalities in 2014.

"We need a coordinated effort to be able to build rescue centers where we can pick [up] as soon as it happens. We call and they move. Now what is happening individually is that most countries are using their air force as coordination centers. The aircraft drops. If it is in the ocean, the people they contact are their air force,” he said. “They move them to the spot just to locate and after locating, how do you rescue? That is the challenge."

Bonsu said more training is needed on air traffic management as the number of flights continues to multiply.

Air navigation safety expert Siddi Kone said scores of small air companies operate in sub-Saharan Africa without respecting international norms. Losing track of planes is an issue.

He said traffic coordination and communication need to improve. Kone said they have to make sure planes do not find themselves on the same routes as they move through the region.

Air traffic controllers in Africa say they lack personnel and proper communication equipment. Safety experts gathered in Cameroon this week said air traffic personnel in some countries must rely on mobile phone networks.

Power outages at airports and animals trespassing on runways are also among the top frustrations, and dangers, they said.

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