On Saturday, April 11th, an Air France Airbus A330-200 was shot at twice after landing in Point-Noire in the Republic of Congo. The plane, operating the flight AF4145 from Paris Charles De Gaulle to Pointe-Noire, was on a rescue mission to repatriate some 100 French nationals from the Central African nation. The plane was then set to continue onto Bangui in the Central African Republic to pick up 120 more passengers.
Shots fired at 20:00
The Airbus A330 was attacked at 20:00 local time. According to BrazzaNews, two shots were fired at the plane.
The weapon was identified as a PMAK assault rifle, which is in use by the Congolese Armed Forces, local police and Gendarmerie. The shooter was a member of the airport gendarmerie and was on duty at the time. According to Les Echos, they aimed and fired two shots at the plane.
No one was injured in the shooting.
The person involved has been arrested and taken into custody. According to local reports, the person firing the weapon may have been intoxicated. However, the reason behind the shooting is not yet known, and we expect a full report will be released in time.
The impact on the plane
One bullet managed to puncture the fuselage of the Airbus A330 completely, while the second bullet hit the tarmac. The Airbus A330 with the registration F-GZCK is 17.2 years old and was delivered to Air France in March of 2003.
A YouTube video shows the damage very clearly:
Pictures by BrazzaNews also show where the bullets hit:
Pointe-noire:Le Vol Air France en provenance de Paris attaqué(tirs d’armes)après son atterrissage à l’aéroport International A.Agostinho-Neto dans la nuit du 11 Avril (20h). La compagnie aérienne a suspendu sa mission qui consistait à rapatrier ce matin quelques (100 )français. pic.twitter.com/D9g6m0Z9zL
— BrazzaNews (@brazzanews) April 12, 2020
Air France responds:
Air France was quick to respond, confirming that the incident did indeed take place, although no official report has been published:
In a tweet, Air France said:
Le vol prévu à 10h00 a été reporté de 24h afin de permettre d’acheminer un appareil de remplacement et un équipage depuis Paris CDG. Les clients ont été avertis et pris en charge par nos équipes locales.
La sécurité de nos clients et de nos équipages est notre priorité absolue.
— Air France Newsroom (@AFnewsroom) April 12, 2020
The Air France Newsroom tweet translates as:
“The flight scheduled for 10:00 am was postponed for 24 hours in order to allow a replacement aircraft and a crew to be transported from Paris CDG. Customers have been warned and taken care of by our local teams. The safety of our customers and our crews is our top priority.”
A rescue Boeing 777-200 is coming.
In the meantime, the bullet-stricken Airbus A330 remains on the ground in Pointe-Noire, and the French national carrier has sent a replacement Boeing 777-200. According to Aeronews, a team of Air France technicians is onboard the replacement plane ready to help fix the damaged Airbus A330.
Once the 777-200 arrives in Point-Noire, it will pick up some 100 French nationals and make a second stop at Bangui in the Central African Republic, where the plane will pick up 120 more stranded French Nationals. In total, the flight will return to Paris with 220 passengers.
With the replacement plane being sent, a delay of 24 hours will incur. Such a delay is not significant. In the current climate, it’s fantastic that Air France is doing a brilliant job in rescuing its citizens.
Air France’s Airbus A330-200’s seat 224 passengers in a 3 class configuration: 36 in Business Class, 21 in Premium Economy, and 167 in Economy. With a total of 220 passengers being rescued from Pointe-Noire and Bangui, it’s the perfect plane for the job. The Replacement 777-200 has 280 seats, so for some lucky passengers, they might find themselves with an empty chair.
Air France’s impressive repatriation schedules
Air France has been working around the clock to provide French Nationals with a way home in the rapidly evolving climate. The airline has flown rescue flights to Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles.
From Western Africa and the Congo-region, there have been flights from the cities of Abidjan, Conakry, Cotonou, Libreville, and Kinshasa. The airline is also operating flights to France’s overseas territories such as Cayenne, Fort-de-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre, and Saint-Denis de La Réunion.
According to Air France, these flights will have “specific fixed fares,” which is good to hear as some airlines have taken advantage of the current climate and have sold economy tickets for thousands to fly people home.
Bullets hitting aircraft in the past:
While this type of incident is rare, bullets have hit passenger planes in the past. In January 2015, The Guardian reported that a flydubai Boeing 737 was hit with bullets at Bagdad Airport. After this, three airlines suspended flights to the Iraqi capital. Luckily, in this incident, no one was injured.
In a more unfortunate event, in June 2014, a Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A310 was landing in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan when eight bullets pierced the plane. One passenger was killed, and 3 flight attendants injured. Apparently, one of the shots narrowly missed the captain.
What do you think of the incident? If you were on board or affected by this incident, let us know in the comments!