An Airbus A300B4-203F (Freighter) was scheduled to operate a cargo flight from Cairo (Egypt) to Mogadishu (Somalia) on this day in aviation history. The flight would be operated by a crew of six and carry a payload of 41.260 kilograms. 47.5000 litres of fuel was uplifted in the tanks of the aircraft for the (~3430 kilometres - 2145 miles) flight.
A soldier guarding the wreckage the day after the forced landing (©Feisal Omar)
Mogadishu Aiport is an airport that operates during daylight hours only, meaning that, at this time of the year, the airport would close at 18.00 local time. Based on the estimated flight time, and the departure from Cairo (13.45 Mogadishu time). the aircraft would arrive at Mogadishu Airport at 18.27 lt (local time). This was 27 minutes after the airport closed. After an uneventful flight, the crew of the Airbus contacted Mogadishu ATC at 17.45lt, giving an ETA of 18.02 lt. ATC informed the crew that the airport was closed by that time, however, the pilot insisted they were going to land. When ATC contacted the aircraft at 18.02 lt to ask about their position, the crew amended their ETA to 18.27 lt. At 15.27 the aircraft appeared on the approach and ATC advised the crew that they were to land at their own discretion and the controller did not issue them with a landing clearance.
Soldiers guarding the wreckage the day after the forced landing (©Feisal Omar) As it was dark by now the handling agent parked cars with headlights on at each end of the runway, to aid the pilot in landing the aircraft. Three approaches were flown, which all led to missed approaches being flown. On one of these approaches, the pilot aborted the landing as he had mistaken a street illuminated with floodlights for the runway. The three missed approaches used up a large amount of fuel during the 45 minutes of flying around over Mogadishu. All three approaches were flown with the aid of ATC, and another, 4th, approach was flown to runway 05, 2000 kilograms of fuel remained.
After getting too far from the airport an engine flamed out due to fuel starvation, a short while later followed by the second engine. A forced landing was made approximately 18 kilometres (12 miles) to the west of the airport. All crew members survive the forced landing. The aircraft sustained heavy damage to the lower fuselage, wings and engines and was written off as damaged beyond repair.
A soldier guarding the wreckage of one of the aircraft engines (©Feisal Omar)
The Somali Civil Aviation & Meteorology Authority (SCAMA) of Somalia investigated the accident and published a preliminary report, 5 days after the landing. This report, which served as the source for this blog, is available by clicking on the .pdf file at the end of this blog.
In the conclusion section of the preliminary report the SCAMA states;
The crew was warned numerous times about the airport closure at 18.00 lt
There were no runway lights for nighttime operation
The pilot intentionally attempted to land in darkness
The crew reported receiving instructions from other radio stations then Mogadishu Tower