An aircraft believed to be a Dornier 228-200 belonging to Busy Bee Congo has crashed in a residential area of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The aircraft was carrying 17 passengers and crew, according to the BBC. They cite North Kivu regional governor Nzanzu Kasivita Carly as saying that the aircraft had crashed into homes in Goma and that there were deaths.
What are the details?
The governor said that the plane was taking off from Goma International Airport (GOM) and crashed into houses in the Mapendo neighborhood of Goma. The Busy Bee Congo flight was on its way from Goma International Airport to Beni Airport (BNC) in the north of the country, a distance of 250 kilometers (155 miles).
An employee of Busy Bee Congo who asked not to be named told Reuters that the 19-seat Dornier 228-200 was carrying two crew and 16 passengers on board. This contradicts the BBC’s estimate of people.
Air crashes are unfortunately fairly frequent in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to safety standards being ignored and poor maintenance of aircraft. Because of this, all Congolese commercial airlines including Busy Bee Congo are banned from operating anywhere within the European Union.
What kind of Airline is Busy Bee Congo?
First established as a domestic charter operator in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007, Busy Bee Congo, operates a fleet of Dornier aircraft from its base at Goma International Airport in the east of the country.
Busy Bee Congo operates one basic version of the Dornier 228-100 aircraft for 15 passengers (length 15.04 m) and two Dornier 228-200 aircraft Extended version for 19 passengers (length 16.56 m).
The Dornier 228 is a twin-engine turboprop built by German aircraft manufacturer Dornier at their factory in Oberpfaffenhofen, Bavaria.
The Dornier 228 is often referred to as “the truck of the sky” for its ability to be used on short and often non-existent runways.
The engines on the plane that crashed were Garrett TPE331-5 developed in 1959 for the military. Since 1999, the engine has been manufactured by Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix Arizona.
From the images and video we have seen from the crash site the weather does not seem to have played a part in the crash as it appeared to be sunny with blue skies. Flying in and out of sometimes just dirt landing strips, you have to believe that the pilots flying the Dornier’s are experienced aviators used to flying under difficult conditions.
This then only leaves one possibility and that is poor aircraft maintenance, which may have caused a loss of power at a crucial time. A source on the ground told the BBC’s Emery Makumeno that the aircraft experienced engine failure right after take-off.