Monday, April 09, 2012

de Havilland Canada DHC-8-311Q, Air Tanzania, 5H-MWG: Accident occurred April 09, 2012 at Kigoma Airport (TKQ), Tanzania

The ill-fated Dash 8-300 aircraft that skidded off the runway at Tanzania's Kigoma airport while taking off April 9, 2012.

 Dar es Salaam/Kigoma. Thirty five passengers and four crew members got the scare of their lives yesterday when a Dash 8-300 aircraft belonging to Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) skidded off the runway at Kigoma airport.  The plane was trying to take-off for Dar es Salaam via Tabora but ran aground after its tyres got stuck in muddy potholes. No one was hurt in the drama.Aviation officials reported that the airplane, the only one owned by the national flag carrier, was seriously damaged in the 10.15am accident.

The acting Kigoma regional police commander, Mr Kihenya Kihenya, said all the passengers and crew on Flight TC119 were rescued shortly after the incident. One engine and one wing of the aircraft piloted by Captain Emmanuel Mshana were damaged, according to the deputy minister for Transport, Mr Athuman Mfutakamba.

Speaking on the phone from the western Lake Tanganyika shore town of Kigoma, the regional commissioner, Lieutenant Colonel (rtd) Issa Machibya, said he rushed to the airport when he received information about the accident. “I thank God when I found that nobody was injured although the plane was seriously damaged,” he said.

Ministry of Transport and ATCL officials held a crisis meeting yesterday to discuss the matter, according to permanent secretary Omar Chambo. In the meantime, efforts were underway to rescue the passengers stranded in Kigoma. ATCL acting chief executive officer Paul Chizi said aviation experts were expected to travel to Kigoma to assess the extent of damage done to the plane.

“I am waiting for a report from the experts but I am told the plane has been badly damaged,” he said, adding that ATCL was working on the possibility of acquiring a charter plane to ferry the stranded passengers.

Efforts to hire a government plane came to naught because the only one that could have been hired had  other scheduled flights.

Mr Chizi added that his office was communicating with PrecisionAir to see whether they could spare a plane to ferry the stranded passengers.
The national carrier resumed operations in November last year after being out of business for eight months, with daily return flights from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma via Tabora.

According to the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) chief executive officer, Mr Fadhili Manongi, the authority has reported the accident to an independent investigation team at the ministry of Transport.This is the second aviation accident this year. There were nine such accidents reported in 2010/2011.

Shocked passengers had a variety of stories to tell, with Bishop Silas Kezakubi of the African Inland Church and his wife Yunis saying the plane skidded off the runway as it gained momentum to take-off. “Instead of taking-off, the plane came to an abrupt stop before it skidded off the runway,” said Bishop Kezakubi, who was travelling to Tabora. “I was shocked when I learnt that we were in trouble,” he added: “I became more shocked when the crew announced that the plane had problems and we should prepare to disembark.”

The cleric said he saw smoke coming out of the plane’s right wing. The MP for Kasulu Rural on the ticket of NCCR-Mageuzi, Ms Agripina Zaituni Buyogera, who was travelling to Dar es Salaam on her way to Dodoma to attend the Bunge session that begins today, said she could not believe that she was alive.

“I don’t want to talk about the accident,” she declared. “I am still in shock.”  A passenger who identified himself as Mustafa Yamungu said some passengers had noted that one of the plane’s engine propellers was not working properly. In 2006, a United Nations Boeing 737 crashed in the same area. The plane was ferrying supplies for UN peace keepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.