KQ hires UK firm to probe collision


A Kenya Airways plane. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ has hired a UK company to investigate a collision between two Embraer jets that caused multi-million-shilling damage to the two planes which were under repair.

The Aviation and Aeroscope Consulting Services (ICF), which also has operations in Asia and America, was tasked with establishing why the two planes collided at a Jomo Kenyatta International Airport repair hangar in a February incident that attracted widespread social media interest after employees of the airline leaked pictures of the damaged planes.

“Kenya Airways has recently suffered a number of maintenance incidents resulting in serious damage to aircraft that could also have endangered the lives of those involved or those in the vicinity, the most serious being the collision of two Embraer aircraft during engine runs," says ICF in its proposal for engineering and maintenance support for the national carrier.

Outgoing Kenya Airways (KQ) chief executive Sebastian Mikosz signed the contract that will see ICF earn Sh25 million ($250,000) upon the completion of the work expected to take about one year.

The airline in a statement said it has had "a long-standing relationship with ICF, dating back to 2013" and their main service has been to provide independent aviation audits in respect to technical reliability and capacity of both fleet and personnel.

"There are no local experts who have the international recognition required for this assignment," said the airline that is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

In February, two aircraft collided during a technical engine maintenance check. No casualties were reported. The two aircraft were then withdrawn from service and investigations into the incident launched.

In June, another Kenya Airways-owned plane had to make an emergency landing in Mombasa after developing a mechanical problem 20 minutes after take-off. The KQ 609 flight to Nairobi was airborne when the plane’s warning system raised the alarm and the pilot made a U-turn to Mombasa as a result.

ICF notes in documents sent to KQ that it had identified operational weaknesses in the maintenance programme. However, the firm notes that the programme had improved over recent years.

Kenya Airways Tuesday said that the independent audit report did note some gaps in operations which have since been addressed.

"These include recommendations for capacity building and upskilling of staff though training and this was scheduled and done in conjunction with KCAA (the regulator). In addition, disciplinary measures have since been undertaken internally," said KQ in its response.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and KQ teams are required to investigate and issue a report whenever safety incidents are reported.

ICF proposed to send a team of four consultants to Nairobi to perform the task for a period of between six and 12 months.

The aviation consultant was to perform an analysis across all areas of operations to obtain the full picture of the situation across the airline’s areas of operations, which include maintenance, control and workshops.

The firm will upon completion of its investigations provide KQ with a detailed written report listing the findings and observations from the time spent on site.

"An interim summary report and meeting will be held at a mutually agreed time around the mid-point of phase 1, in order to share the findings to date and ensure the exceptions are on track for all sides," says the contract.

"A detailed remedial action plan will be discussed and agreed with Kenya Airways CEO and senior management team."

In the event that the first phase of the exercise takes less or more time to complete, ICF is to adjust the final fee down or up. KQ yesterday said it had made a cost saving of about 5.5 per cent on industry rates when it negotiated the contract.