Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Photo of the week January 30th, 2013

Another beautiful West African morning sky... the beauty catches our eye and takes our breath away. These skies are free to all who care to look at them - to all who take the time to glance upwards and to pause for a magnificent moment appreciating the natural beauty that we are all granted each day. However, this is also a beautiful sky under which to fall sick and even die. Each day people are falling sick, and even dying, unnecessarily, under our beautiful skies - simply because of a widespread lack of basic health education - even in relation to what is available to all. Knowing how to prevent disease is important, as is knowing what is available to all citizens. Did you know that in Ghana 'since 1st July 2008, all pregnant women not currently registered with the NHIS, may benefit from the following:

a) Exemption from payment of the NHIS premium

b) Exemption from payment of the registration charge

c) Waiving of the waiting period between registration and accessing services

d) any woman who presents at an accredited health facility with a pregnancy-related complication resulting in, or arising from, miscarriage or abortion will be entitled to the same benefits

e) any woman who, having delivered at home or in an unaccredited health facility, and who subsequently presents at an accredited health facility with post-partum complications during the six week post-natal period will be registered.'

This is a positive position, but it is not as well known as it should be. Such information reaching the people in need may save their lives and it certainly should improve conditions for many women. As you look at the sky, remember we all share it, and would be even better if we were to all share the same knowledge regarding health matters and access to health care.

Photo courtesy of Medicine on the Move

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28th, 2013

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

The first major grounding of a commercial aircraft type since 1979 took place last week. The Boeing Dreamliner, a remarkable machine, pushing the barriers in many directions, grounded over a battery issue. There a number of things we need to think about before we jump to conclusions, especially after listening to some of the more dramatic media presentations.

First of all, what was the problem in 1979? It was a problem with the DC10 related to its engines parting company with the wing. The maintenance procedure used, against the advice of McDonnell Douglas, was probably the cause of the fault. It appears that they used a forklift to change an engine, and cracked an engine pylon in so doing. The consequential loss of life, on that flight out of Chicago, changed a lot of things. As we have said before ‘every regulation has a tombstone’. For the DC10, after a lot of inspections, changes in procedures and the like, the fleet was returned to service and continued in production for many years. The type still flies many millions of kilometres every year, especially with FedEx! Personally, I enjoy flying in the DC10 when I get the chance!

The current B787 situation is very different. The world has changed, and our approach to safety is much more brisk and sharp. The people who gave up their lives, in a DC10, in 1979 have given us a legacy in relation to safety and grounding of aircraft types in 2013. We all take safety a lot more seriously these days – and it is a good thing. In this 787 grounding it appears to be principally ‘Battery problems’. No loss of life. No major emergency. Just battery problems – and a bold decision to make headlines, through being open about them, and grounding the fleet worldwide.

The battery appears to have overheated and caught fire. This is not good. The aircraft safety systems reported the fire. This is good. The pilots took appropriate action. This is very good. Everybody is fine. This is excellent. Boeing are taking it seriously. This is what we expect – they are taking their responsibilities in the matter, and want to fix it.

Technically, they could replace the battery and go flying again. But no. They want to know why. What happened? Could it happen again? That is the basis of aviation safety.

Aviators like to know WHY? And they like to prevent it happening again! If only all modes of transport took the same approach!

Apparently, a spokesman for the NTSB is reported as saying “We’re looking at everything that could have played some role in this battery mishap. There’s a lot yet to learn.” This is excellent. An admission that there is a lot more to learn.

What is different about this battery? It uses a different technology, which makes it lighter. Lighter means that the aircraft can carry more cargo… But how many kilos lighter than the previous technology? A rough estimate is nearly half of the weight for the same output. All in all a tiny percentage of the overall aircraft weight – but a significant amount if you add up those kilos and multiply by the life time of kilometres travelled, it then equates to significant amounts of fuel being burned over the lifetime of the aircraft, just to carry a heavier battery array…

Why can’t they just change to another battery type anyway? It is not that simple. Due to the regulations and approvals, a change in the battery will require a lot of paperwork, potential changes to circuits and charging systems – and a lot of drawings, tests, etc. prior to being considered for release to flight. Furthermore, the 787, as part of its design, has higher electrical needs, and then the fact that the type of battery used in the Dreamliner is not necessarily the same shape, size or package as the older technology may mean that the physical space for the battery could be an issue. I am sure that it could be done. But it should not be done unless necessary – and not until we know what happened and why.

What type of battery are they using? The same as found in many smart phones – Lithium Ion. Light, efficient, but if not managed properly can suffer from ‘Thermal-runaway’ – a condition where once they start to overheat they just keep on overheating - which is what may have happened to the Boeing planes.

It takes a lot to get something approved for flight, so how come this battery was approved and then failed? It could be a quality control challenge at the factory in Japan where these batteries are made (Yuasa). It could be a handling issue (think back to the DC10). It could be a circuit issue. It could be climatic. It could be anything at this stage, hence “We’re looking at everything that could have played some role in this battery mishap. There’s a lot yet to learn.”

The Dreamliner entered service in October 2011. So what has happened since? Why are only some playing up? Should they let the ‘no problem planes’ continue to fly? Should they just change all the batteries and go back into the air? It is not that simple – and you and I are very glad the Boeing people are not going for any ‘easy solution’. They will approach this with the same detail as they did their work related to sending people to the moon and moving around on it! Boeing has been a major player in the space race, and knows what it means to design it, build it, test it and back it up in service – anywhere on the planet – or off of it for that matter!

I have every confidence that within a relatively short time, the 787 will be Dreamliner-ing its way across the skies, and that we will all have learned a great deal. Indeed, in this particular case, I have a particular interest.

Only last week, we considered trying a Lithium Ion battery in one of our aircraft! They are light, and as a result may give us not only more power, but less weight in our next aircraft build. At approximately 50% of the weight for the same power with a lot of other advantages (lifetime, recharge profiles, etc.) it could be a viable solution for some of our local aircraft… one day.

There have been cases of Lithium Ion batteries being a problem in the past with certain computers, and that was fixed. However, this technology is still relatively new in aviation applications. I think we will wait another year or so before we try it – but we will monitor the developments!

Finally, as a matter of interest, the Airbus A380 also uses the same battery technology and, I am sure, will be watching this matter with great interest… perhaps the two elephants of the airliner world will share notes on this one – and both grow stronger!

One thing is certain, and that is when we fly, we know that Safety in the skies is no accident… a lot of people work hard to ensure that this industry stands out for the right reasons… even if some of the media sometimes spins it the wrong way!

Capt. Yaw is Chief Flying Instructor and Chief Engineer at WAASPS, and lead Pilot with Medicine on the Move, Humanitarian Aviation Logistics ( e-mail

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Photo of the week January 23rd, 2013

Bush fires continue to rage in many parts of the country. Fire prevention, site planning, careful fire-management and controlled burning are key to protecting facilities. Here we see Kpong Airfield after several fires have burned around the area, with no loss of materials or property. Interestingly, the team at the Airfield is busy preparing for the rains. During the last rainy season they prepared for this dry season. Planning and education are key to time saving and property protection. Photo courtesy of Marcel Stieber

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21st, 2013

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

A famous song from The Police/Sting has words that carry a lot of meaning…

Every breath you take, And every move you make, Every bond you break, Every step you take, I’ll be watching you.

Every single day, And every word you say, Every game you play, Every night you stay, I’ll be watching you.

Every move you make, Every vow you break, Every smile you fake, Every claim you stake, I’ll be watching you.

Although the song appears to originally be about some love struck chappy watching his babe, and having his heart broken, the fact is the sentiments have a place in aviation, and the world in general, more and more.

There are no secrets in aviation, and thanks to the internet, there are very few secrets left in the world. We assume that Julian Assange will continue to release wiki-leaks to reduce the remaining ones, and we are certain that each and every one every one of us is being monitored more and more daily.

Every call we make, with our mobile phones, is traceable. Every e-mail we send is stored somewhere. Every Facebook post we make is locked in a cyber-bank somewhere, and all this can be accessed in minutes, using state of the art software. With the advent of a camera into almost every mobile phone on sale, we are able to be ‘snapped’ and/or recorded at any time. In fact, it is possible to use your own phone as a listening device for those with the right equipment, without you even knowing!

Ultimately, accountability for everything we say, write, do, go, and almost think, is coming.

It has already been that way in aviation for a while. Aviation is incredibly accountable.

For engineers, everything is recorded, serial numbers, part numbers, dates of changing oil, aircraft logs, engine logs, and more – if you change the battery you have to record it. Then, if there is an accident or an issue related to that battery (such as the on-going Boeing 787 story) you will be questioned about the tool you used to install it. The torque you used on the bolts, etc. Then the manufacturer of the certified battery will have to have materials certificates that relate to that very battery. Even pumping-up the tyres is recorded and must be done with the nitrogen, not compressed air. The fuel is regularly tested for contaminants and certificates stored, and so the list goes on.

For pilots, their log books, what they eat, where they sleep, etc. is recorded, and, in the event of an accident, the restaurant where they ate the night before may be searched and food samples taken for testing, in case of food poisoning…

Imagine that we took that same responsibility in our everyday lives.

It all goes back to “I’ll be watching you.” For a long time we have known that ‘if you expect more, you must inspect more.’ It has worked in aviation, and it can work in all aspects our work and lives, if applied appropriately.

One of the almost cultural trends, that is damaging the ability of Ghana to develop quicker, is the matter of tardiness. Punctuality is a rare practice in many of the developing nations. There are often reasons – such as transport challenges, traffic, poor communications, accidents, road condition, etc. However, lateness costs, especially in Aviation.

We are all caught watching the clock when we travel by air… we are all watching ‘the flight progress’ on the in-flight GPS… watching me, watching you… and making decisions, winning or losing, based on that observation and its repercussions.

If you miss your flight, you lose. There is no ‘Oh, but Chale, I was going to come early but then there was this dis-ding and my mother’s brother’s friend’s dog needed to be taken to the dat-place…’ or whatever, to placate an aircraft that has already left the gate. ‘Oh, but I can see the plane, it has not left yet!’, simply does not wash. You were late. You missed out. You lose. Simple. You can complain, you can beg, but you can’t change the fact that YOU ‘missed the boat’ and all that such a situation may lead to. You can claim traffic, a flat-tyre or some other ‘reason’, but you should have planned better and you missed the flight. You are being watched and cannot hide the FACT that YOU were late. YOU have missed out. You can say ‘it was unfair’ or that ‘I was unlucky’, but, at the end of the day YOU make your own fairness and your own luck!

I believe that staff should be on time, and failure to ensure the same is tantamount to theft. If a member of my staff arrives late they steal. But what do they steal?

They steal my time (they are paid to be at work on time, so they are stealing back something that has been purchased from them). They steal my respect (they reduce the amount of respect I have for them). They steal opportunity (I am less likely to promote or support them for further opportunities). They steal productivity (because we produce less). They steal my effort (for I will need to spend some of my effort on addressing their lateness). Yet, it is seen by many that ‘being late is acceptable’. Sadly, many also see ‘leaving early as acceptable’ also. This has to stop. Now.

I was always told that taking even a paperclip from the office without permission is theft. Theft is theft. Simple. Not being at work on time is theft, and it affects the whole operation. It can result in the whole day being less productive – especially when morning meetings are concerned.

Clearly, a member of staff who steals in this way is guilty of misconduct and will lose their job. Sadly, when this happens the other staff will come ‘begging for them’. More ‘theft of time’, less productivity. Punctuality is expected in an airline. If your plane is late you complain. Airline performance figures are measured on their timeliness.

When I go to a shop to purchase something, and the shop is opening late or closed early, I will often simply refuse to return to that shop. They not only lose that particular sale but may lose all my future sales. A particular vendor recently decided to ‘stay at home’ some extra days after the New Year. I gave my order to another supplier. I found it hard to believe that my usual vendor then got angry at me because I would not ‘wait’ for him to return to work! He will not even be asked to quote in future. Whose fault is it? I know. You know. But he has failed to understand that ‘I was watching him’ and it has cost him.

We am not always on time, none of us. There are times that our flights are delayed – generally due to features beyond our control, such as weather, a technical hitch or a knock on effect from a late arrival for a lesson. But we must all try to be as punctual as possible in all that we do.

We can all improve our time-keeping and our efficiency. As I tell staff and students ‘Every breath you take, And every move you make, Every bond you break, Every step you take, I’ll be watching you’ and I hope that as I inspect more, they will start to expect more of themselves.

Capt. Yaw is Chief Flying Instructor and Chief Engineer at WAASPS, and lead Pilot with Medicine on the Move, Humanitarian Aviation Logistics ( e-mail

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Photo of the week January 16th, 2013

The Harmattan Haze disrupts our horizontal visibility far more than the vertical visibility, as all pilots in West Africa are painfully aware! This vertical shot of a group of islands in the Volta was taken before the Harmattan, from about one thousand feet (300m) above the islands, using a Rotax powered, built in Ghana, Zenith CH701 light aircraft with a locally developed vertical camera mount and remote release mechanism for a Canon T2 camera. It shows the incredible beauty, and understanding of the surrounding water channels, that we can gain from simply looking down at a piece of land. More and more developments are using aerial photography to assess potential sites for their operations, saving themselves time and funds by so doing - often finding new opportunities that they had not imagined from the ground! There are several operators in Ghana who offer aerial photos and survey solutions, each specialising in their own particular field. Whether for mining, publicity, agriculture, mapping, LIDAR or just for the pleasure, aerial photographs provide inspiration and enlightenment. Photo courtesy of WAASPS Ltd 028 5075254

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14th, 2013

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

‘Identity theft’ is a major challenge in many parts of the world, and yet here in West Africa we seem to be experiencing a different challenge – hidden-identity!

In aviation we work hard to ensure that people’s identities are well defined and blatantly obvious. Hi-visibility vests/clothing just to be visible, as well as defined uniforms, identity cards, name badges, fingerprint checking, iris and retina checks, handprint checks, biometric passports, and the list goes on. Knowing ‘who-is-who’, and ‘who is responsible for what’ and ‘identifiable at-a-distance personnel’ is a major part of the success story that aviation holds world-wide. It is a must of any large organisation and any public service organisation. Just visit ‘Game’, or any another large store, and you can see in an instant who works there, who is a security guard, and who is a customer – it is a necessary part of their existence.

However, when I visit many organisations/operations in this part of the world, I have no idea who is a member of staff, who is security, who is a visitor, who is meant to be there, who is not meant to be there. Frankly, the lack of simple signage often means that I don’t even know where I am or where I should go. (Again the large stores even put signs above the aisles to help you find you way around!)

There is one particular outfit that I was sent to recently. Upon parking in the shabby car park, I saw an office marked ‘information’. I was thrilled, and went to the window. There was nobody there. Disappointedly, I walked around the corner. The door to this ‘office’ was open. I noticed that the desk inside had collapsed, papers strewn around, chair in pieces, and there was nobody to be seen.

I walked around the building looking for a sign or a responsible person. Nothing. Then I spotted a soldier, in uniform. I approached him, knowing exactly who I was approaching; he had his name marked on a badge. He ‘snapped too’ as he saw me approach. We exchanged the usual introductory pleasantries and I asked ‘Where is the Directors office?’, he shrugged his shoulders, and explained that he too was bemused at the layout of this important building, but thought it may be ‘out-back’. So, wandering ‘out-back’, I was stopped by a man, in regular clothes, I asked the same question. He responded by asking me for help to get him ‘out of Ghana’. I walked away, assuming that he was NOT a person who was supposed to be at a Government building!

Finally, twenty minutes later, finding nobody who appeared, nor admitted, to working in the place, I stood in the car-park and ‘loud-hailed’, ‘CAN ANYBODY TELL ME WHERE THE DIRECTOR’S OFFICE IS?’ On the third calling, a well-dressed man walked out and asked me ‘what do you want?’, it turned out, after discussion, that HE was the director I was looking for! No badge, no uniform, no identity, just his word.

As walked away, I was grabbed by the arm. A burly, red T-shirt clad man, menaced me with a hand-held radio. He told me that I must leave immediately, since I have no permission to be at ‘his’ office. Intrigued, I asked for his identity. Waving the hand-held radio he told me ‘National Security’. I asked for his identity card, and was told that his radio was his identity. I couldn’t help but guffaw and walk away.

Later, the same person approached me and told me that he could arrest me if he wanted to. I asked ‘What for? Where is your identity?’ as I stood my ground. He angered, gesticulated, waved his precious radio threateningly, and then, finally walked away. Another, tall, clearly and calmly spoken man politely came along with an identity card and we exchanged pleasantries, both of us confused at the scene and the clear lack of understanding around us. In true Ghanaian style I was reassured. I love the Ghanaian expressions such as ‘no worries’, ‘don’t mind him/her’ (or even ‘never mind you wife chop bar!’). ‘it will be fine’, ‘bor bor bor’, ‘kra-kra kra-kra’, ‘vii vii vii’, and the ubiquitous ‘sorry-oo’. This culture is full of reassurance and support – and it, so it seems, needs to be!

Clearly, some security personnel work in plain clothes, this is perfectly understandable, but they must show proof of their identity and position if they challenge you – or they simply lack identity and authority. If personnel, in an establishment receiving the public, are not required to wear a uniform, they should at least have some identification – even as simple as a name badge. Sadly, that is widely missing. Staff lacking identity, makes them invisible, takes away their authority, and makes it a mission for the public or clients to work out who they should speak to, even for simply asking directions. If, for example, security personnel wear a uniform, they are easily identified, and gain instant respect, or so we would like to think. However, if they lack ‘personal identification’ they lack accountability.

The great thing about my interaction with the soldier, was that I was able to initiate communication with him, using his name, and if I so desired, his rank. It was clear – nothing hidden; position, duty, purpose. Clear, factual, no hiding. If he did the wrong thing at any point (which he did not), he was easily identifiable by profession, unit, rank and name. He wore his uniform with pride, and in my opinion, did a great job. Sadly, that is not the case with all of our uniformed protectors.

In a separate event, I was stopped by the police on the road. Nothing new. The usual exchange of pleasantries took place. Then, the sad ‘intimidation phase’, that a few of our officers of the law still practice, began. As I scanned the uniform, the name badge was missing. A supposed police officer, without identity. It could easily be a stolen uniform. Being told by an officer ‘I do not need to identify myself’ does not wash with me. Upon the suggestion that we should go to the police station together, the matter was settled, and I continued on my way.

Identity is important. Topically, if you wish to vote, you must identify yourself as an eligible voter in advance of the election, and be verified ‘that same person’ on the day of voting. How much more must our civil servants and officers who protect us and our freedoms be identifiable?

One organisation that I work with did not have any ‘identification policy’ and I was always at a loss to know ‘who’s who’ and ‘who does what’. Then a new Director who, with so many staff, could not always be expected to remember each and every name and position, insisted on large identity tags on each person – A6 size! At first, there was a little resistance, then, there was the acceptance stage, and today all wear their designated tags with pride. It makes life easier, reduces stress, it builds accountability and it has made the place more pleasant in many ways.

I am currently reviewing our ‘personnel identity’ programme, and hope that you will review yours. Clear identity of individuals, their organisation, designation and name is a must for the development, safety and protection of all of our operations. Personnel Identity must become a corporate responsibility for all of us.

Capt. Yaw is Chief Flying Instructor and Chief Engineer at WAASPS, and lead Pilot with Medicine on the Move, Humanitarian Aviation Logistics ( e-mail

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Photo of the week Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Of the hundred or so aerial shots, shown here over the past couple of years, the 'six barge push' on the Lake Volta, by VLTC, is amongst the most spectacular The Volta Lake has an estimated 8,000 km coastline (remember it grows and shrinks, based on the season and associated water levels), and is currently massively underutilised. Transport by lake is merely one third of cost of the equivalent road transport, and offers less damage, especially for agricultural and certain bulkier commodities - as well as reducing wear, tear and congestion on the highways. Plans are approved to grow Lake traffic, and with it enable more the rural people and developments. It is heartening to hear that in the near future there will be upto fourteen active lake ports, with regular crossings, opening up trade and accessibility opportunities for the rural people working in the bread basket of this country. Based on the current four-year development plan, the inland waterway transport corridor will provide dynamic North-South transport solutions as well as linking communities from the central 'overseas' portions of Ghana to the Eastern Corridor. Aerial Photography by WAASPS Ltd. Photo Courtesy of Volta Lake Transport Company Tel: 034 302 0085

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 7th, 2013

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

This year is just beginning, and today is the first BFT edition of 2013!

Before a pilot embarks on a flight in a new aircraft, whether brand new, or simply ‘new to the pilot’, he or she will take a good look around the physical machine, and read as much as they can about the handling of that aircraft type.

The ‘walk-around’ is the process of ‘assessing whether the machine is airworthy’. It involves, as the name suggests, a walk-around the machine, looking at every possible nut and bolt, windshield, tyres, rivets, etc. as possible. It is impossible to inspect some items, for they are ‘sealed’ inside the airframe, behind fairings or under vanity covers. All the same, the maximum possible ‘visual checking’ is carried out prior to climbing aboard for the flight. At times ‘early warnings’ can be picked up, which may not prevent the flight in hand, but raise the awareness that ‘if not addressed in the near future, may affect future flights’. At times, the condition is such that a pilot will decide NOT to embark upon a flight, at least not before a particular item is addressed. Such an approach saves lives, funds and, ultimately, time. History has shown us that failure to fix a potential problem, before it becomes an incident, is not smart. It may appear costly, but the savings are greater than any accountant can fathom. Life is always more valuable than profit.

In the same way, we are able to ‘walk-around’ our potential challenges of 2013. We know our environment, but have we looked at what might need attention? What might we need to address first and foremost, to prevent losses down the line? Is it better to ‘speed off and make tracks’, or is it more appropriate to ‘assess and address the 2013 pre-flight walk-around issues’?

It all sounds simple, but it is not. The reality of our day-to-day lives is that we have to contemplate the bigger picture whilst addressing the minutia necessary to succeed.

The best way for me to express this concept is with the ‘smoking rivet’. Almost all ‘riveted’ aircraft exhibit a ‘smoking rivet’ at some point in their life. Do not get carried away, this is nothing to do with the tobacco industry! There are no such things as ‘rivet-cigars’, yet rivets do ‘smoke’. The smoke is not smoke from a fire, it is not even smoke at all. It is a collection of fine aluminium dust around the rivet head. You can wipe it off and it disappears. Nobody need be any the wiser. The only thing is that the ‘smoke’ will come back after a while, and it will become greater in intensity. Far less than a gram of metal is involved in the ‘smoke’, but it is a sign, one that can be ignored, or addressed. Over the years of flying, I have come across many smoking rivets, and reported them to engineers. Most engineers simply wipe the ‘smoke-particles’ away and smile. I will not. I understand the underlying implications.

The ‘smoke’ is caused by the tiny movement around the rivet – perhaps it was badly fitted originally, perhaps it has worn, perhaps there is some play developing in the parts it is holding together – probably a combination. It is easy to mask, and to allow it to grow as an issue. Eventually, the hole will wear, and the rivet could even fall out. However, it is also easy to fix. Generally, drilling out the rivet (following procedures) and checking that everything is in order, drilled to the ‘next size up’, treated and a fresh rivet pulled, takes less than an hour. This attention to one out of thousands of rivets on an airframe can protect the whole machine, increase its useful life and protect the lives of those aboard, as well as those on the ground – and protect future jobs and economic growth. Sadly, attention to such minutia is lacking throughout the world.

The aluminium aircraft built at Kpong, have 8,500-14,000 rivets in each of them. Each one requires a hole to be drilled, the parts to be de-burred, surfaces treated against electrolytic corrosion, and then, after the rivet is finally set, each and every one must be subject to Quality Inspection and replaced if not to ‘spec’.

Over time, normal wear and tear, the occasional heavy landing, various vibrations, even the weather itself, can lead to a smoking rivet. Addressing smoking rivets is standard maintenance and key to longevity – of airframe, crew and business model.

Sitting at the threshold of 2013, I see several ‘smoking rivets’ around me, not on the flock of aircraft in the hangars, but in the society we live in.

Education is full of smoking rivets, which if not addressed will result in ‘students falling out’ and industry/commerce not receiving the much needed quality of recruits to stoke the furnaces of development. Materials, teaching and learning programmes, discipline and more, all have signs of ‘smoking rivets’. The issues of education spread far into the future. Poor quality school leavers today, will remain in the system for the next forty or fifty years. Getting education right is expensive in the short term, but is key to future growth, stability and security.

Health has many smoking rivets, needing desperately addressed to ensure that the population is able to work, keeping productivity up and improving life for all in the country. Potable water, sanitation solutions, vaccination programmes, malaria treatment, schistosomiasis awareness, pneumonia, diarrhoea, hand washing, suitable and safe maternity care, under-five mortality rates, anaemia, and the list goes on. Our health ‘smoking rivets’ are in danger of crippling us if not suitably addressed in the coming months and years.

The Economy – inflation, taxation, banking practices, loan-rates, credit availability, cash-flow, scandals, schemes and the like, can quickly make more rivets smoke, and more businesses fall out of the economy, than most imagine. Getting them all in a line and ‘smoke free’ is a challenge that no economy in the world has ever achieved. Monitoring them, and addressing them is key to maintaining the economy in ‘airworthy shape’, and is a must for us all in 2013.

Family may well hold the key to the above. If parents support their children, and stand up for a better education, providing volunteer support to schools, encouraging good teachers, highlighting poor teaching practices, reading stories, listening to their wards and putting education in the right place in the home, it will reduce the smoking rivets dramatically.

Likewise, family holds the key to health. Provision of a balanced diet, ensuring that the family follows good health practices with regards to water, sanitation, sleeping and other aspects of healthy living. Early, appropriate, treatments with a common sense approach to even the most basic wounds, all lies within the potential of a well-educated, caring family environment.

As for the economy, the family can help too. Support of family members, financial planning and family investment in education, health and business development, honesty and integrity at all levels. Of course, the family must avoid greed and corruption at the top, or it will result in many smoking rivets, with members of the family ‘falling out’, with the consequential damage to the family, and social, integrity.

Let us all have a ‘smoking-rivet-aware-2013’!

Capt. Yaw is Chief Flying Instructor and Chief Engineer at WAASPS, and lead Pilot with Medicine on the Move, Humanitarian Aviation Logistics ( e-mail