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Saudi Arabia deals with recent aviation disasters

Hats off to King Khaled International Airport for damage control.
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Challenges are thrown at the aviation industry on a regular basis, as experienced by our colleagues in Saudi Arabia last month.

Shortly before publishing this issue of Aviation Business, we received the tragic news that a Lufthansa Cargo plane had crashed at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh. Within minutes of the incident, news channels and online websites were bursting at the seams with real-time updates on what caused the accident.

Of course, this is something we will learn as the month progresses, with an investigation already in full swing, although for now we can be thankful that the MD-11’s pilots were rushed to hospital and survived the ordeal. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about a stowaway that managed to bypass the security at Rafic Hariri International Airport in Lebanon and hide in the wheel bay of a Nas Air plane on the way to Saudi Arabia.

Once again, it was left to airport officials at King Khaled International Airport to deal with the aftermath, with the Lebanese national’s remains being discovered on the aircraft by a maintenance worker. The incident has raised a number of obvious concerns and led to the eventual resignation of Beirut airport’s security head General Wafik Shoukeir.

A ministerial committee has also been drafted in Lebanon to conduct a study on Rafic Hariri International and determine the level of security flaws. The report will be keenly awaited and has been scheduled for completion in the second half of this month.

So what can be done to avoid such instances in the aviation industry? There’s countless measures being taken around the world to place a limit on potential disasters, some more successful than others, and most within the industry would agree that constant progress is essential.

However, given the nature of airline and airport operations, we have to accept that challenges are inevitable, so hats off to the team at King Khaled International Airport for dealing with the severity of last month’s issues with such a professional attitude.

If you have any comments on this month’s issue, please email Robeel Haq, senior group editor of Aviation Business magazine (robeel.haq@itp.com)

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