KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – Within four days of reporting about an Antonov crash near Malakal, when the ancient Soviet built plane inexplicably crashed killing about 6 Ukrainians and Sudanese crew and passengers with only one lucky survivor, yet another air accident happened inside Sudan not far from the runway of Khartoum’s main airport.
Again an aging and Soviet-built plane crashed shortly after rotating off the runway and being airborne from Khartoum to Juba, this time killing all on board. There are reports of some possible injuries on the ground as well, but not yet confirmed by authorities.
The plane came down across a road not far beyond the airport perimeter and in the process mowing down power and utility lines before burning. The owners, reportedly a company by the name of Ababeel, were contacted in their office in Juba and refused to make any comments other than lamenting the loss of the crew, plane and cargo.
With now four major crashes within two months, Sudan has become a dangerous country to fly in and is well nearly now matching the abysmal air safety record of the Congo, where the enforcement of international aviation safety standards is also still a long way off and where rumors of alleged bribery of aviation safety inspectors and regulatory staff emerge time and again after every crash. No ministerial or regulatory staff changes, however, were so far producing any tangible results towards improving their oversight and air safety.
Calls for a complete ban of aged aircraft, in particular from the former Soviet Union, are now gathering momentum among the aviation fraternity across Eastern Africa to improve safety by using newer and more modern aircraft that also need to be maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications and agreed maintenance programs between operators and regulators. These calls and demands are also in light of protecting their own reputation in regard of aviation safety and making sure that visitors from far abroad are not getting the wrong impression that all air travel in Africa is not safe.