South Sudan air scare with government officials aboard
Another near miss as chartered aircraft forced to return to Juba
(eTN) - Reports from Juba International Airport by a regular source from there have confirmed information obtained through other channels yesterday, that indeed another plane, carrying a minister in the Juba government, was forced to return within minutes of leaving the airport for the town of Aweil in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state. A number of additional ministry officials were on board with the minister and escaped with a scare, when leaving the plane on the tarmac as it had landed in Juba to ascertain the nature of the problem.
Incidents of this nature, including a series of minor and major incidents, have become seemingly common in Southern Sudan as operators appear to lack sharp safety oversight due to a lack of sufficient competent personnel being available at this time, as the country nears its first anniversary of independence on July 9 this year.
The incident is being investigated to establish if faulty maintenance was to blame for what was described as a “mechanical failure” or if an error by the pilot may have been responsible. Many aircraft now operating from Juba across South Sudan are leased from neighboring countries from operators which are out to make a quick buck, and a series of “mishaps” have cast doubt over the standards applied in terms of oversight and regular checks by safety inspectors.
A few months ago, a UN-chartered plane had to make a crash landing, and at the end of March, a Feeder Airline plane had a landing “mishap,” as it was labeled at the time at the Wau airfield, causing extensive hull and undercarriage damage but no loss of life. Considering the aviation safety record the previously united Republic of the Sudan had, this seems to have come home to roost in South Sudan, too, making it all the more important to improve all aspects of regulatory oversight now that the new country is the latest member of ICAO, the global aviation watchdog body.