One dead after jet crashes into airport in Rwanda

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A passenger jet in the African country of Rwanda crashed into a VIP lounge at an airport on Thursday, officials have said, killing one person. The aircraft involved was a CRJ-100 with Rwandair, leased from the Kenyan Jetlink airline.

File photo of a CRJ-100

The director general of Rwanda's Civil Aviation Authority, Richard Masozera, told media that the pilot of the aircraft reported a problem two minutes after takeoff and requested to land. The flight had been due to take its fourteen passengers to Uganda.

"He landed safely on the runway and was guided by the marshals into the parking area. For some unexplained reason, the plane, from the parking spot, took off again at full power and [...] took a right turn, unexplained, into the technical building," Masozera said. He added that emergency services reacted quickly to the incident, but one of the people on board the plane was hurt and died of injures.

The acting chief executive of the airline, Jack Elk, suggested that the jet might have "auto-accelerated" and crashed into the building. "The captain could not control it. The plane did not get airborne again, it taxied into the building," he said, noting that the black boxes from the plane's cockpit would be analysed by the authorities. "The captain was taken to the hospital with a broken leg. He has not been able to give us any information so far."

Rwandair CEO Gerald Zirimuabagabo commented that the jet had had technical difficulties in the recent past. On Wednesday, it reportedly made an emergency landing in Nairobi, Kenya over concerns that its generator may have malfunctioned. However, Zirimuabagabo didn't say if the technical fault was corrected by mechanics.

The CEO added that an investigation into the incident was launched, and Rwandair's two remaining Jetlink-leased aircraft would be suspended, reducing the airline's fleet to only one operating jet.