Ten casualties after Cessna 208B Grand Caravan crashed near Njabini in Kenya

Cessna 208B Fly-SAXA Cessna 208B Grand Caravan (5Y-CAC) with 8 passengers and 2 crew, crashed in the rugged foothill of the Aberdare ranges near Njabini in Kenya on Tuesday the 5th of June 2018. The fateful flight B50102 from Kitale (KTL/HKTL) to Nairobi (NBO/HKNW) departed at 13:05 Zulu. It was operated by Fly-SAX, when it was last seen on radar at about 14:02 Zulu following an ostensible reroute to Nairobi (NBO/HKJK). The occurrence is classified under ICAO’s Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT). Speculations were high when the investigation was launched, however the wreckage was not found until the 7th of June 2018 that left no survivors. The airplane was located at an elevation of 3350 m on Elephant Hill in the Aberdare mountain ranges.

The governments’ emergency response plan (ERP), search and rescue mission failed on the particular day of the accident, highlighting the exigent need to improve on disaster management and principally accident investigation as an effective recommended practice under the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USAOP).

Search and rescue teams from AAID, KCAA, KWS and other agencies were activated at the time. “They have paused the search tonight and shall resume at first light tomorrow morning”, reported KCAA Director General, Gilbert Kibe. Investigations are ongoing in the hope of determining the root cause.

The airplane crash happens at the crucial time when the anticipated ICAO’s (USAOP) in Kenya purposed a deliberate move by the KCAA to downgrade through recertification, over 60% of Air Operators to local routing operations only in attempts to prevent SSC implications. Many questions arise from this action. Why was this a crucial move? Will the downgrade affect the outcome of the USAOP audit? What impact will the affected AOC holder of this recent accident place on the effective implementation of safety by the KCAA? Though the flight was operating a domestic flight plan, the uncertainty surrounding these events is bound to cast undue scrutiny on how the Authority handles this investigation.

ICAO’s (USOAP) was launched in January 1999, Kenya’s Civil Aviation was last audited in 2013, results on key areas as shown in the graph below. USOAP audits focus on a State’s capability in providing safety oversight by assessing whether the State has effectively and consistently implemented the critical elements (CEs) of a safety oversight system, which enable the State to ensure the implementation of ICAO’s safety-related Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and associated procedures and guidance material.