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JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 1 (IRIN) - An African Union (AU) body has urged airlines o­n the continent to register for a mandatory safety audit, and called for old planes to be taken out of service.

The AU appeal came as the Aviation Safety Network, a global monitoring organisation, revealed that while the continent accounted for just three percent of global air traffic, it was responsible for 37 percent of fatal air accidents in 2005.

Only four African airlines - South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Egyptair and Royal Air Maroc - have completed the safety audit of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and are now listed as approved operators, said an IATA spokesman.

Christian Folly-Kossi, secretary-general of the African Airlines Association said that older generation aircraft, many of which have been flying for more than 20 years, "are responsible for giving Africa a bad image."

Apart from two fatal crashes in Nigeria that claimed more than 200 lives last year, the 11 other crashes in Africa involved old generation western-made planes, he told IRIN. There were also Russian makes, such as the Ilyushin, operated by "adventurers in war-torn countries like Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo".

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BVN National News Wire