(eTN) – A Fokker 50 aircraft, owned and operated by Congolese private airline CAA, Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation, crashed this afternoon while attempting to land in Goma after failing to make it to the runway, killing at least 36 crew and passengers on board with four seriously injured pulled from the wreckage.
According to a source in Gisenyi, Rwanda, the weather was bad at the time the plane attempted to land and later saw a column of smoke rise from within Goma city, only to learn from friends across the border that indeed a plane had crashed in Goma itself. This correspondent was only days ago in Gisenyi and at the border to the DRC and witnessed the violent thunderstorms which lashed the twin towns of Goma and Gisenyi every day.
CAA, according to available records, was established in 1992 and has also been operating regular flights to and from Entebbe, Uganda, though the stricken flights originated from Lodja in Eastern Province. The airline operated 4 Fokker 50 turboprop aircraft, one of which crashed today, 1 Fokker 100, and 4 Airbus A320.
In 2009, the same airline also suffered another crash in Goma, when an MD 82 failed to come to a halt before the end of the shortened runway and crashed into a lava field which until today covers part of the airport including an end section of the runway, making landing heavy a tricky effort due to the shortened runway length. Only weeks later did a B727 freighter of the same airline crash in Kinshasa.
The 2002 eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo devastated wide sections of Goma itself and rendered the only airport in Goma unserviceable until part of the lava at least was removed to allow larger jet aircraft to land again.
The Congo DR has one of the world’s worst aviation records and authorities in Kinshasa are regularly blamed for their lax oversight and poor enforcement of ICAO’s aviation safety standards, which led to the blacklisting of all DRC airlines from European airspace. Condolences are expressed to the families and friends of those who perished in the crash.