The Minsk, Belarus-based all cargo carrier TransAVIAexport Airlines which for the past years has concentrated much of their operations on the African continent, was in the news during the past couple of years due to some of its aircraft having been attacked by rebel missiles when landing at African airports.
IL-76TD escapes being destroyed in Juba
One of the company’s six Ilyushin IL-76TD freighters was on approach to Juba in South Sudan on August 22nd in bad weather when the crew decided to initiate a go-around after having decided it was too dangerous to continue the landing approach. The aircraft struck a tree and a house before being able to gain altitude and divert to Uganda’s Entebbe Airport. A five year old girl was killed, four people injured and the house completely destroyed.
On landing in Entebbe, the IL-76TD’s main landing gear collapsed due to the damage it sustained during the go-around in Juba. None of the crew were hurt but the aircraft has received substantial damage.
An experienced remote-field operator
TransAVIAexport Airlines which is owned by the Belarus state was formed in 1992 as a cargo airline and has taken part in many humanitarian operations throughout the world - but especially in Africa. Much of this is work carried out for the United Nations World Food Programme, with TransAVIA’s aircraft operating into remote areas on the Africa continent.
The carrier has its main base in Minsk, Belarus, with a further hub in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Their fleet is now rather old with two Boeing 747-200Fs and 1 747-300SF which have an average age of around 30 years. The six Ilyushin IL-76TD freighters are also coming of age but are ideal aircraft for emergency humanitarian operations around the globe. They have even flown into remote “ice-fields” in the Antarctic to supply stations there with medicines and food during the dark winter months.
Not having much luck lately with mishaps
Flying freighters in remote and war torn areas in Africa is not an easy job and demands much concentration and perhaps some luck.
TransAVIA has had to face quite some hairy situations during the past couple of years. They almost lost an IL-76TD at Mogadishu in March of 2007 when the aircraft was hit by a rebel missile on landing. Luckily, the crew remained unhurt and the aircraft was able to get back into service later. Another IL-76TD was not so lucky in 2002. Also hit by a missile in Mogadishu, the crew perished and the aircraft was lost.
The carrier was remarkably lucky in December of 2015 (CargoForwarder Global reported) when an engine pod of one of their B747-200Fs struck the runway on landing at Saudi Arabia’s Abha King Khalid Airbase. The engines was write-off, but things could have been much worse as the aircraft was stated to have been carrying 100 tons of 2000 pound bombs for the Saudi Arabian army.
AN-26 operating for UNHCR crashes also
On August 28th there was another aircraft loss in South Sudan when an Antonov AN-26 freighter operating a relief cargo flight on behalf of the United Nations crashed on landing in heavy rain on the Maban airstrip. The aircraft is a wright-off, but the crew managed to escape with minor injuries.
Not much fun having to fly in such conditions and remote areas. One can only take their hats off to the guys sitting up front on such missions and hope that incidents remain purely as “mishaps.”
John Mc Donagh