AIR SAFETY

Poor infrastructure worries airlines

Silverstone has had two incidents occurring in less than a month

In Summary

•Members of Parliament summoned Silverstone Air managers and state agencies concerned with aviation to a meeting on Friday

•Safarilink- also suffered the same ill fate on Tuesday when one of its aircraft veered off the runway at Wilson Airport

The Silverstone aircraft which was forced to make an emergency landing at Eldoret International Airport on Monday, October 28, 2019.
The Silverstone aircraft which was forced to make an emergency landing at Eldoret International Airport on Monday, October 28, 2019.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Silverstone Air is not ruling out poor infrastructure at local airports for increased airline malfunctions witnessed in the recent past.

A Silverstone plane made an emergency landing at Eldoret International Airport on Monday after one of its tyres came off. This, barely two weeks after a Silverstone Fokker 50 bound for Lamu skidded at Wilson Airport during takeoff on October 11.

"I believe it would make things more efficient and easier for all of us to operate if the infrastructure was enhanced," Silverstone’s accountable manager Sheila Muthama said.

She, however, added that she did not want to point fingers at anyone.

"We expect the infrastructure to be a certain way and we are currently engaging with them and other operators to ensure the infrastructure is enhanced," she said. 

In efforts to ensure the public of the airline’s safety and security following the recent occurrences, Muthama defended the Kenya Airports Authority adding that they had initiated renovations on one of the runways at the Wilson Airport last Friday.

While only two passengers were slightly injured in the first incident and no casualties were reported in Monday’s incident, the airline has come under fire from both the public and members of the National Assembly.

“I think it is high time we say NO to this unworthy aircraft. Poor maintenance by Silverstone and Safarilink is wanting. Wilson airport management should be disbanded,” Twitter user Eliud Koskey @RoyKoskey said.

On Tuesday, members of Parliament summoned Silverstone Air managers and state agencies concerned with aviation including Transport ministry leaders, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) to a meeting on Friday.  

KCAA will be required to brief the committee on the entire fleet of aircraft operating through Wilson Airport.

In respect to Silverstone, the committee is seeking information on the aircrafts' age, their last inspection date, and who issued their airworthiness certificates.

Lawmakers may now be forced to summon another airline- Safarilink- which suffered the same ill fate on Tuesday evening.

The Safarilink plane, registration 5Y-SLJ, veered off the runway at Wilson Airport at around 6.25 pm. There were no injuries reported in the plane carrying 10 passengers on board.

“The big question is what is the state of the runways. It is clear that it is not an airline issue as Silverstone has been saying. Kenya Airports Authority needs to give answers,” Twitter user John Kago said.

KCAA and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Department (AAID) have launched investigations into Silverstone Airlines to determine exactly what transpired.