A de Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 PF plane owned by Bluebird Aviation has crash-landed today in Beletwein, Somalia. The Kenyan plane was operating a cargo flight from Djibouti to Beledweyne Airport when it crashed and caught fire. The aircraft was carrying humanitarian aid and food supplies. Only three crew members were on board at the time, and all managed to escape the fiery wreck without sustaining serious injury.
The Dash 8 cargo aircraft hit several small mounds of earth next to the runway, which was being used for maintenance. Sources are reporting that the crash was caused by a donkey. The animal was spotted on the runway before the plane touched down and the pilot swerved to avoid hitting the animal.
Local media are reporting BlueBird Aviation’s general Manager, Captain Hussein Mohamed, as saying,
“The plane was from Djibouti earlier this morning, and upon landing a donkey crossed the runway, they hit the donkey and swerved off to a trench on the side of the runway, but the crew are perfectly okay.”
Although the plane burst into flames upon impact, all three crew members escaped with minor injuries. The crew members were taken to the local field hospital as a precaution. Mohamed also confirmed that a UN helicopter was already on the way to fly to crew members back to the Somalian capital of Mogadishu. According to Aviation-safety.net, the plane has been so severely damaged by the crash that it is beyond repair.
Kenyan DHC-8 Dash 8 on ops for UN crashed and burned n landing at Beledweyne Airfield, Somalia. The aircraft was on a cargo flight. No information about casualties yet.https://t.co/ohks5OtCbi pic.twitter.com/7UgfZZbxyo
— JACDEC (@JacdecNew) July 14, 2020
The aircraft, registered 5Y-VVU, first flew just over 20 years ago. It’s now part of a fleet of just nine Bluebird aviation aircraft. The Kenyan regional carrier operates three Dash 8-100 and six Dash 8-400 aircraft, although now it only has five. The flight today was a charted on behalf of the US Department of Defense in support of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
The airline mainly operates cargo flights as well as charter flights for governments, humanitarian aid companies, NGOs, and other private companies in and around Kenya. According to its website, it also offers medical evacuation and relief services. Since it formed in 1992, it was just eight incidences reported on the Aviation Safety Network.
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Kenyan crashes in Somalia
The crash today is the latest in a string of Kenyan aircraft which have crash-landed in Somalia. Another cargo plane crashed near Berdale on May 4th, killing all six people onboard. It was also carrying medical supplies, which were to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. The plane belonged to Somali-owned, Kenyan airline African Express Airways.
On July 5th, a Kenyan plane also crash-landed in Bardere, Somalia. The Fokker 50 aircraft was operated by Buff Air Services when the right-hand main gear collapsed upon landing. Luckily, no one was seriously injured.
Somalia was also the site of a near-miss for another Kenyan aircraft when it was fired upon. The plane was carrying medical aid into Qansax Dheere in Somalia when it took fire just a few miles from the airport. Again, no one was injured, and the plane landed safely.
The existing tension between the two nations will not be helped if more Kenyan aircraft are downed in Somalian airspace. Although several of the recent crashes have just been bad luck, humanitarian aid and medical supply planes are having a rather difficult time in the area at the moment.