Only thorough probe will bring closure in plane crash tragedy

On Friday, The Standard published an exclusive story detailing what might have transpired moments before the horrific crash of FlySax aeroplane.

On the same day, the Kenya Pilots Association, in an uncharacteristic move, called for thorough investigations, perhaps to rule out foul play or pilot error in the accident.

What is perturbing and chilling are the revelations that a re-routing of the plane caused the crash that killed 8 passengers and two crew members in the cold Aberdares ridges; that air traffic controllers had asked Captain Barbara Wangeci to land the light aircraft at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and not at Wilson Airport where it was originally scheduled to land.

Other accounts include a conversation around the state of the aircraft, specifically, its airworthiness before take-off from the Kitale Airstrip on that fateful day. That at its age, unless properly and regularly serviced, the plane was bound to have mechanical issues. As it stands, nobody knows for sure what caused the fatal crash of the Cessna C208 aircraft.

All these are mere speculations. Kenya’s aviation safety record is among the best on the continent. Flying is regarded a relatively safe mode of transport. In fact, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) upgraded the safety level of Kenya's airspace in March, two years after it was blacklisted.

The FAA cautioned airlines to only exercise caution when flying below 26,000 feet in the border region with Somalia.

Yet in spite of that, a few tragedies like this one or the one that took place in Nakuru last year should provoke hard questions whether civil aviation authorities are enforcing quality and standards in terms of safety and security. The general perception is that there is little of that. Unfortunately, this gives room for all manner of speculation in times of such tragedies.

Nonetheless, rumours and innuendo like those in the aftermath of the FlySax plane crash do little to dissuade the public that our airspace is safe enough.

Worst of all, they do little to ease the anguish of the families of those who needlessly die in such circumstances.

A thorough investigation that will find a non-contested cause of the crash will help bring closure for these agonizing families mourning the loss of loved ones.

That should include the inspection of all short haul flights to avoid future disasters.

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