In the past couple of months, there have been over three incidences of planes skidding of the runway at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, raising eyebrows to safety measures at the airport.
In October alone, there were at least five incidences that happened at Wilson Airport, involving four commercial planes and one police helicopter.
On October 11, a Silverstone Air plane crash landed at the airport in a suspected overloading case. On October 27 at the same airport, another Fooker aircraft belonging to Silverstone hit and damaged another plane, in what is thought to be congested parking area.
On October 29, a Safarilink plane skid off the runway at Wilson Airport at around 6.25pm.
Kahawa Tungu‘s investigative desk delved into the matter, seeking to know the major cause of the accidents.
First, the airport established in 1933 as Nairobi Aerodrome and later renamed to Wilson Airport in 1962, was/is not supposed to handle planes above the weight of seven tonnes.
According to a notam given by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) in our possession, any plane above 7 tonnes should not operate from Wilson, meaning that 90 percent of the airlines have to move to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
A notam is a notice filed with an aviation authority to alert aircraft pilots of potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the safety of the flight.
Among the planes that were affected include Dash 8 100/200/300/400 , Fokker 50s,Embraer 120. Most local airline operators such as Safarilink, Air Kenya, Silverstone, Fly540, Jetways and 748 Air Services.
The notam report was however discarded, to allow cartels continue operating at Wilson at the risk of passengers.
The Airport has been unable to expand to handle bigger planes, after cartels and land grabbers stole land meant for the expansion of the airport. The airport is said to be in a poor condition, with potholes decorating the runways.
It is one of the busiest airports in Kenya, averaging a traffic of around 120,000 landings and take-offs annually. This translates to around 328 landings and take-offs daily.
The airport was previously named after millionaire settler-farmer Florence Kerr Wilson, whom it was named after. It was snatched from her by the Kenyan British colonial government and made part of Royal Air Force during World War II.
Currently, missionary aviation operators AMREF, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and AIM AIR use Wilson Airport as their airport base on the African continent. It is used also for flight training. The airport is under the supervision of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).
The airport is preferred by many people due to its faster check-in times and fewer flight delays, as compared to JKIA. Common domestic destinations from Wilson Airport include Kisumu Airport, Mombasa International Airport and Eldoret International Airport.
Wilson Airport has two asphalt runways: Runway 1 measureing 4,798 feet (1,462 metres) long and 72 feet (22 metres) wide and Runway 2 measuring 5,052 feet (1,540 metres) long and 76 feet (23 metres) wide.