CONGO CRASH IN UVIRA MOUNTAINS CLAIMS 6 LIVES
(Posted 31st December 2014)
Grapevine rumours, that an Antonov 26, reportedly belonging to Air Sirin, crashed in the Uvira Mountains in Eastern Congo, proved correct when late yesterday confirmation was received from an aviation source in Goma.
The aircraft, with at least 6 onboard, including crew, had taken off from Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, not long after midnight on the 28th of December. The flight routing was to take the aircraft across the Congo to Pointe Noire in Congo Brazzaville, a distance of 1.200 nautical miles, but the aircraft crashed not long after takeoff into the Uvira Mountains after failing to gain altitude. There has been speculation among the aviation fraternity that the plane’s crew could not see the terrain at night and that the aircraft may not have had modern equipment on board which could have alerted the crew that they were approaching a mountain, allowing to take evasive action.
It could not be established where the flight had originally come from, whether the plane was on a charter for another operator, what cargo it carried and if all six on board were crew or some of them passengers.
Added details sourced show that the aircraft entered service in 1979, MSN 8608 and was at the time of the accident registered as 4L-AFF in the Ukraine. While the aircraft was not registered in the Democratic Republic of Congo has the crash nevertheless again highlighted the bad safety record in parts of Africa, often attributed to the use of aged and poorly maintained aircraft from the former Soviet Union. Repeated calls to ban such aircraft have only been heeded in some African countries while others, like Congo, still allow them to fly in and out of their airspace.