The eagerly awaited report released yesterday into the cause of the crash of Kenya Airways flight KQ 507 in Cameroon on 05/05/07 when 114 people lost their lives confirms nagging suspicions that pilot error was to blame. Premature, unhelpful and unsubstantiated leaks blaming the weather and exonerating the pilots have now been found to be false. The report is a devastating indictment of 'inadequate operational control, lack of crew coordination, coupled with the non-adherence to procedures of flight monitoring, confusion...' While not apportioning blame, I think the airline should do itself a big favour and hold some key people from the top tier accountable. It would be unwise to understate the importance of public perception in any business.
For a while now there has been much buzz which refuses to go away pointing to effects of that insidious Kenyan culture of binge-drinking having seeped into some cockpits although that did not play a part in this event. The right questions will now have to be asked about the transparency of recruitment, issues dealing with staff welfare, development and reward. I still can't get my head around the fact that this aircraft took off into a storm without receiving proper clearance from Air Traffic Control while crews of Cameroon Airways and Royal Air Maroc chose to wait for weather conditions to improve.
KQ management needs to appreciate that a majority of their Kenyan customers choose to use its services due to an unwavering sense of patriotism. However you should now expect us to rightly hold up aspects of your company's safety record to much harsher and tighter scrutiny. Remember also that continued custom will be bonded by an implicit condition that passengers are routinely entrusted to disciplined and capable hands.
Kenya Airways, if you are listening, mercifully you got another chance and you still retain most of our trust but we want assurance that our faith is not misplaced, that lessons have been learned. Without doubt this trust should not be broken again even as you work harder to repay our loyalty and shareholder investment.
Allow me to share with you again, Femi Kuti's 97 (it tugs at the heartstrings, please listen)- in memory of KQ507.