On 24 December, an Antonov An-26B (9T-TAB) from the Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo crashed during its landing phase at Beni Airport, North East of the country. The aircraft was operating a military flight from Kinshasa to Beni Mavivi via Kisangani with four crew members and was carrying 65 military that were being deployed to the Beni region. Around 40 of them got injured and were taken to hospital, but nobody of the occupants died.
AviationSafetyNetwork examined the pictures (see below) and wrote the following: “Photos from the scene suggest that the aircraft overran the runway at Beni. It went down a slope and broke upon impact. The left hand wing broke away outside of the no.1 engine. The remaining wing with the engines attached tilted down, causing the propellers to strike the ground. A localized post-impact fire erupted, but was contained by fire services.”
This accident comes less than one week after another Antonov An-26B that crashed near Kinshasa N’Djili, seven passengers lost their lives. According to News AERO, it’s the fifth accident in the D.R. Congo this year alone.
Gomair Antonov An-26B cargo crashes near Kinshasa N’Djili Airport
9T-TAB (msn 14301) is one of the two remaining Antonov An26B in the fleet of the Congolese Air Force, its first flight originates back in 1985 – 33 years of service. On 29 November 2003, the army lost its previous Antonov 26 during a crash near Boende Airport leaving 20 fatalities. Two other aircraft of the same type are still operated by Air Kasaï, an airline operating charter services in D.R. Congo but that airline is banned from operating in the European Union, as any other airline in the country is, and it is on the list of air carriers banned in the European Union.
2018 will become the second most deadliest year in Congolese aviation (after 2014). More than 920 fatalities have been reported: 560 in civil aviation and 360 in military aviation.
A transport plane that overshot the runway in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Monday was navigated by Russian pilots, Russia’s ambassador to the country, Alexei Sentebov, told TASS on Tuesday. “Russian citizens were in control of the plane, but, according to our information, they received no serious injuries,” the Russian diplomat said. The plane had 68 passengers on board, most of them were DRC servicemen.
A military spokesperson earlier said the plane “overshot [the runway] while landing.” As a result, 40 people were injured, eight of them seriously. “Russian pilots arrive to work in DRC not in some official capacity, but as private citizens, and not all of them apply for being registered with the consular department. Therefore, we have no information on how many Russians are currently employed with local companies and, quite often, we learn about such incidents only from representatives of those companies,” Sentebov said.
This is the second major air incident involving Russian pilots in DRC in less than a week. Last Thursday, a Gomair An-26 plane that was engaged to take electoral materials to Congo’s regions ahead of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections crashed when it was on its way back to Kinshasa from Tshikapa. There were 23 people aboard the plane, including the Russian crew. Seven people died, including three crew members.
On December 21, Russia’s embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo confirmed the death of three Russian pilots – Ivan Masalov (born in 1955), Alexander Kretov (born in 1954) and Yevgeny Tarasov (born in 1959). Their relatives have submitted visa applications and are expected to arrive in Kinshasa soon. It is still unclear, whether the pilots had the insurance that would cover the expenses of transporting their bodies to Russia. If not, their employer Gomair will have to defray those costs.