PILOTS-Death in the airspace must stop

By James Atem Kuir

Continuous and massive death in the sky as a result of faulty and obsolete aircrafts that have flooded the country airspace must come to an end, South Sudan Pilots Association brusquely demanded.

The strong statement came after the fatal plane crash in Pieri, Jonglei State that left all ten occupants aboard dead on Tuesday.

A series of plane crash or air accidents have been witnessed, some involving rejected or banned from operating in neighbouring airspaces.

According to a document availed to Juba Monitor Newspaper, the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority deregistered a Let 410-UVP E type aircraft marked 5Y-SSA belonging to South Supreme Airline company,in a letter dated November 23rd, 2017 and addressed to the operator.

The pilots Association of South Sudan called on the government to thoroughly investigate and put to a stop theseobsolete planes which are slowly finding their way into the country.

“We the Pilots of South Sudan have been advocating for flight safety and jobs and other changes of how a Standard Airport must look like but our SSCAA has been sleeping,” the statement extended to Juba Monitor and signed by Arual Akoon Agei, a pilot with the South Sudan Pilot Association, partly reads.

“Here plane crash after crash but nothing is done about the safety of the people of South Sudan,” he said.

Ms. Agei called on human rights activists and campaigners to join forces and mount pressure on the country flight safety regulatory body- the South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority, to prioritize safety of air passengers.

“Human rights activists should step in because our South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority (SSCAA) has failed us, we can’t keep seeing our people dying and say nothing about it.Local airlines in South Sudan have prioritized money over our people’s lives. No flight safety rules and regulations to be followed by airlines. What do we really do about this?”she wondered.

“The pilots of South Sudan have lost their integrity only to come to their country and get no jobs or fly outdated planes just to make a living, this is so frustrating indeed, we can’t go on like this and we do this for our country, we know we are still ‘young nation’ but these basic things must be attended, the safety of our people must be our number 1 priority,” he said.

Since 2011, many accidents involving deathtrap aircrafts whose origins are questionable and have been in use since World War Two, continue to take toll on human liveswith no tangible intervention from the concerned authorities.

In March 2012, a Fokker 50 type plane operated by Feeder Airlines crashed upon landing after its left landing gear collapsedat Wau Airport in Western Bahr el Ghazal State.

The plane was carrying a total of50 passengers and a crew of five when its nose gear broke after skidding 2,175 meters along unpaved runway. Five crew members were injured but all 50 passengers escaped unhurt according to reports.

On 2nd April, 2012, an Avro 748-287-2B type plane marked 5Y-BZR crashed in Doro airstrip, a village in Maban County, Upper Nile State.

The plane lost shape but all three occupants aboard the aircraft escaped unhurt after it hit the ground short of runway under unknown circumstances.

It was performing a cargo flight according to reports.

In May 2012, a single engine Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft marked 5Y-NGO owned by AIRWORKS airline, performing a flight on behalf of World Food Program from Juba, crashed after landing at Yambio airstrip in Western Equatoria State.

The aircraft reportedly hit a pothole on the runway, flipped over and came to rest upside down.

All the 11 occupants on the plane escaped unhurt but one pilot was slightly injured.

Still in 2012, on 15th November, a Fokker 50 type plane registered 5Y-CAN belonging to Skyward International, after touching down at Aweil Airport, collapsed after it veered off several meters the runway.

The plane was contracted by the International Organization for Migration and South Sudan government to airlift refugees back to Aweil North.

The plane was damaged beyond repair but all 57 occupants were evacuated safely, only one passenger suffered minor injuries.

On February 28th, 2013, a Let 410UVP-E9 plane crashed upon landing at Wau airport after its nose gear collapsed

All two occupants escaped unhurt before the plane caught fire, partially destroying it.

The LZ-CCJ marked cargo plane owned by Heli Air was performing a humanitarian flights on behalf of United Nations Organization.

On Nov 14, 2014, an Avro 748-399-2B aircraft marked 5Y-BVQ operated by Global Airlift on behalf of Lutheran World Federation (LWF) crashed in a huge explosion killing two pilots and leaving an engineer with serious injuries in Panyangor, Twic East County in Jonglei state.

The crew was transporting a humanitarian cargo when the plane reportedly encountered technical problem with its undercarriage. It went out of control and veered off the runway, killing about ten goats in additions.

On May 19th, 2015, a Cessna 208B Caravan I aircraft registered 5Y-NKV owned by AIRWOKS crashed at Mandeng airfield in Nasir County of Upper Nile State.

Still on November 10, 2015, a Hawker-Siddeley HS.780 Andover C plane marked TL-AEW and owned by West Wind Aviation Company, crashed while attempting an emergency landing shortly after taking off from Wau on its way to Malakal.

All four crew managed to evacuate the chartered cargo plane before it caught fire, destroying it completely.

On 4 November 2015, an Antonov An-12 cargo aircraft crashed few kilometers away shortly after takeoff from Juba International Airport, while on its way to Paloch in Unity State.

It was operated by Allied Services Ltd, a logistics company based in South Sudan at Juba airport, leased from Tajikistan’s Asia Airways.

At least 37 people were killed, including the crew of six in that deadly crash. One adult passenger and a baby girl were the only survivors.

Some other media reports put the death toll from that crash to 41 people.

The government said the plane was overloaded.

On June 14th, 2016, an Antonov AN-32A aircraft operated by Eco Aviation overran the remaining distance of the airstrip and lost its undercarriage before coming to rest with one wing bent in Bor, Jonglei state.

The EK-32120 marked plane was performing a humanitarian flight on behalf of World Food Program from Juba to Malakal with immediate stop at Bor. All crew members survived the crash.

On March 4th, 2017, an Antovon AN-26 plane belonging to South Supreme Airline ran out of control and hit a truck from the fire brigade, and crashed near at the end of the runway.

All 45 occupants managed to evacuate before the plane bust into huge flame, destroying it completely.

On August 28, 2017, an Antonov AN-26B plane owned by Eco Aviation crashed after touching down on runway in Maban, Upper Nile State.

The EK-26006 marked cargo was contracted by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

All crew members managed to evacuate the plane before it bust into huge flame.

On January 7th, 2018, an Cessna 208B GRAND CARAVAN single engine aircraft belonging to Private Prive, crashed after taking off, killing one and injured 11 others in Akobo County, Jonglei State.

The 5Y-FDC marked plane reportedly struck a house and several cows before resting in huge flame.

In September 2018, a chartered Let-410 UVP airplane of South West Aviation crashed into Lake Yirol, killing at least 20 people, including an Anglican Bishop.

The ill-fated plane was carrying a total of 23 passengers and crew, of which three people survived the crash.

Reports indicated that there was heavy fog, resulting in poor visibility that day.

On April 14, 2018 an Antonov AN-74-200belonging toAYK AVIA,suffered an accident while landing in Akola, in Jonglei State while on a humanitarian mission.

All five crew members were uninjured while the airplane suffered various damages and was abandoned on site. Both engines were removed later.

On October 27th, 2019, a Let L-410UVP twin engine plane crashed about 12km south of Bor town while attempting an emergency landing after weather conditions reportedly worsened.

Two crew and two passengers survived the crash.

The cargo plane marked YI-BYO was returning from Walgak to Juba when it crashed, breaking off its right wing.

On August 16th, 2020, a Cessna 208B GRAND Caravan plane crashed Fangak County; Jonglei State after, it went out of control and collided with a tree on side of the runway.

Two crew and five passengers all survived the crash.

On August 22, 2020, a South West Aviation An-26 turboprop aircraft crashed shortly after taking off Juba at International Airport in Kemiru outside Hai-Referendum Residential Area, killing seven people.

One person reportedly survived the crash.

The plane was reportedly on flight to Aweil with a stop in Wau.

In January, 2021, a military helicopter crashed in Cueibet County of Lakes States.

The SSPDF helicopter was airlifting the remains of late Gabriel Matur Malek with 14 passengers and three crew members.

At least 11 people were injured in the crash.

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