The beleaguered Tanzanian national airline suffered another setback yesterday, when one of its remaining aircraft, an aged B737-200 crashed while attempting to take off from the lakeside town of Mwanza.
It was confirmed by sources at Mwanza Airport that while on the take off run some of the aircraft’s tires burst, sending the plane into a skid from which the crew was unable to recover, before it eventually slid off the runway to a halt.
The plane suffered extensive damage to the undercarriage, when the nose gear collapsed under the strain. The hull and at least one of the engines were also damaged, but all passengers and crew escaped without serious injuries.
The airport was closed for a period of time, to permit debris to be cleared from the runway. It was eventually re-opened for traffic again.
The weather at the time of the accident was reported to be fine and was not a factor in the accident. It could not be established if the condition of the tires has caused the accident. There is now growing speculation though, that the financial state of the airline may finally had come home, undermining its ability to properly maintain the fleet, and change tyres earlier, rather than waiting until absolute minimum useable condition has been reached.
ATC was subject to a regulatory withdrawal of its air operators’ certificate some time ago, over unresolved issues with ‘documentation’ related to maintenance, and has not been able to recover from the loss of business and customer confidence ever since. The Tanzanian government has been trying to find a strategic investor for years now but this too has failed. The latest accident will definately do more damage to the government’s attempts to ‘offload’ its national airline to a foreign carrier, considering pending labour disputes in addition to the technical questions now on the table again.
It could not be ascertained at this time if the Tanzanian CAA is again slapping a ban on the airline by suspending their AOC, which would likely be the final curtain call for Air Tanzania.