PNG’s Aviation Industry: An Accident Waiting to Happen

PNG is one of the most hazardous flying environments in the world and it’s safe to state that anybody who’s ever lived in PNG will know of somebody or will at least have heard of some sort of harrowing flying “incident”.

Recent years have seen a disturbing number of crashes which were all poorly investigated due to corruption and lack of resources. Safety standards have fallen off the edge and there are valid concerns about PNG’s inadequate aviation safety systems.

In the past seven years, 19 crashes have never been looked into properly. The crash of Patrick Kundin’s plane eighteen months ago is a prime example of the system’s breakdown. Due process was not allowed to take place. The wreckage was plundered and the recordings of the crews distress calls were wiped out. With no legal framework to back air investigation teams, investigators are powerless.

I’ve been involved in a few myself, but luckily nothing serious – yet.

I say “yet” because after you see the following interview you’ll be thinking the exact same thing too:


I’ve just realised that YouTube has disabled the ’embed‘ feature for this video. To view the video click here.

~ by Tavurvur on December 9, 2008.

3 Responses to “PNG’s Aviation Industry: An Accident Waiting to Happen”

  1. Hello,
    Great job. But not enought info. Where can i read more?

    Have a nice day

  2. I agree with Charlie. I’d like to see some hard facts. I think there has been a generally hysterical response to the most recent crash at Kokoda.

    Since 1945 there have been 252 aircraft related deaths in PNG. For comparison Australia has had 274 deaths in the same period. Considering the terrain, that PNG has virtually no highway system, and that flying is the main method of getting around, this, to me, appears to be a pretty good record.

  3. Robert,

    Thanks for your comment. Facts do speak for themselves, and if the facts you have quoted are true – then yes, that does appear to be a pretty good record when compared to Australia.

    However, I think the problem here is not linked directly to the state of the aircraft – which in PNG are extremely well looked after by their operators. The problem is to do with the aging systems in place that are meant to support the aviation industry such as airstrips, controllers, air safety, regulations, legislation, investment, training, etc.

    I’ve flown over and throughout PNG more times than I can possible remember, and the BIGGEST problem is the simple fact that PNG’s air crash investigators are not being enabled to visit the crash sites of planes – unlike in Australia where every plan crash is thoroughly investigated and conclusions are drawn on what happened, why, how, etc. In PNG, that is not the case for a variety of reasons (e.g. funding), but the opportunity cost of not being able to investigate means that PNG’s air crash investigators will never know what caused the crash – essential knowledge needed to help prevent future possible crashes.

    Please note – my above article was written Dec 9, 2008, a long time before the Kokoda tragedy. I have deliberately chosen not to write anything about the tragedy, but if any good can come out of this disaster, it is that it will highlight the serious lack of standards within the aviation industry in PNG. I’m not saying that this is the case with what happened at Kokoda, what I am saying is that sometimes such events open the door for necessary investigation, and through that second-phase process the real problems may be revealed.


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