Panafrican News Agency

Kenya creates air services wing to improve airspace safety

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) – Kenya has created a new air support department with a fleet of 36 aircraft, manned by a personnel force of 273, after merging various government agencies running air fleet services, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Thursday.

President Kenyatta launched the National Air Support Department (NASD), a multi-agency unit within the Ministry of Defence,  charged with the responsibility of coordinating Kenya's national air response services, his office said in a statement.

The air services wing would be based at  Wilson Airport. The President said the entity which brings together all government air assets will enhance efficiency in the delivery of aviation services.

 “The National Air Support Department is a multi-agency approach to service delivery that we, as a Government have adopted,” said President Kenyatta, who has been accused of handing major civilian authority services to the military.

The new unit has been created by merging the National Police Air Wing, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) under the supervision of the military.

“This reform initiative was necessitated by the compelling need to foster effectiveness in the management of the national aviation assets, with a view to optimise on safety, efficiency and improved availability of aircraft," the President said.

He explained that the proficiencies from both the military and government civilian aviators will be a great asset to the department. This would not only help in generating revenue to supplement public funding, but also promote aviation safety and reliability across Kenya and the Eastern and Central Africa region.

 “The capabilities and wealth of experience within National Air Space Department will not only benefit government, but, by providing aircraft and equipment maintenance services to private sector aircraft operators, NASD will promote aviation safety and reliability across Kenya and the region.

The unit will also provide the added benefit of generating revenue to supplement public funding.

Lack of proper maintenance of aviation equipment within the national civilian air fleet has brought tragedies to Kenya  claiming lives of citizens and prominent leaders.

President Kenyatta said it was due to such challenges that the Government decided to adopt a coordinated approach in the management of the country’s aviation assets.

The national air assets has been managed in an uncoordinated manner, leading to inefficient training, un-optimal utilisation and maintenance of air assets and air-related facilities, President Kenyatta said.

In some cases, departments had more air assets, with less manpower; while others had more manpower with fewer assets; and others had very low serviceability rates, the President said.

-0- PANA AO/AR 17Dec2020