The Congolese aviation authorities have once again come under scrutiny after an Airbus A310F cargo plane, registered as 9Q-CVH, MSN 413, overshot the – what many now say unserviceable runway – and flattened several houses. At least 8 people, who lived in these homesteads, have been confirmed dead with an unspecified number of others on the ground injured. The aircraft had earlier on Christmas Eve left Lubumbashi and landed around 5 p.m. local time with the runway reportedly wet after a heavy downpour.
As reported, a Korongo Airlines B737 was extensively damaged at that airport when trying to take off, after loose tarmac slabs were thrown up to the rear of the aircraft, damaging the stabilizers and leading to a prolonged downtime for the aircraft for structural repairs.
Several airlines at the time blacklisted the airport for the poor state of the runway but Congolese aviation authority staff then cleared the airport’s runway again just days before this latest accident and declared it fit for service.
It cannot be ruled out at this time that the decayed state of the 2.000 metre long runway 17/35 has been a major contributory factor for the overshoot, when the plane failed to stop in time, sliding along and then beyond the runway before crashing through the perimeter fence and into the houses.
‘That airport must be closed for traffic. This is the second major incident and this one cost lives. Whoever those inspectors were they must be held to account though I suspect their buddies in the air accident investigation department will blame the crew. Another thing is that no houses should be allowed so close to the runway down the centre line. Overshoots can happen but there must be enough space for an aircraft to come to a stop and not hit houses. So again, whoever allowed something to be built there must be held accountable. ICAO must again step in and ensure enforcement because it is obvious the Congo aviation bureaucrats are not up to their jobs and have caused a loss of lives which was completely avoidable’ wrote a Goma based aviation source when passing the news which had not made international headlines over the holiday period.
Most of Congo’s airlines remain on the EU Blacklist for a range of issues, maintenance related, training related and to a good part oversight related and questions are once again being asked by the international aviation fraternity if not poorly maintained airports in Congo like Mbuji-Maji should also be blacklisted and put on a banned list by international aviation bodies.
This latest air accident leaves Congo at the very bottom of the global accident statistics and has added another black mark against the African continent. While other more safety conscious countries have made massive advances to bring themselves and their airlines in line with global averages are they nevertheless suffering as their names are dragged into the mud by countries like Congo with little if any aviation safety conscience.