Updated: Nov 19, 2021
A Win Win Aviation de Havilland Canada DHC-8-202Q Dash 8 (Dash 8) was written off after a forced landing in Mali, on this day in aviation history.
The right-hand wing folded backward
The aircraft N355PH, (construction number 500) was rented from Win Win Aviation and operated by the US Air Force Special Operations Command. The aircraft had departed from Nouakchott Airport (NKC), Mauritania, and had Bamako Airport (BKO), Mali as a destination.
Prior to departure, the crew had (diplomatic) approval to upload 4000 litres of Jet-A1. However, when fuel trucks arrived at the aircraft the refuellers were informed by the crew that no fuel uplift was required. The aircraft departed at 12:29 UTC on its passenger and cargo flight to Bamako Airport.
After, what seemed an uneventful flight, the crew started a very early and slow descent 280 miles from their destination. After just under an hour, they had descended from FL250 to 6000 feet, still 105 miles away from their destination. At 14.52 UTC the crew decided to divert to the northeast, to an airstrip at Kolokani (Mali).
This was 12 miles closer to their current The planned route in Blue, position than the original destination. the diversion airstrip in orange. While en route to the diversion airport just at 15.09 UTC the righthand engine flamed out, the right tank was empty. 5 minutes later the lefthand engine flamed out due to fuel starvation. An off-field (forced) landing was the only option left to the crew. Due to the terrain, the undercarriage collapsed and the right-hand wing was (partly) torn from the aircraft.
All nine occupants (3 crew and 6 passengers) of the aircraft safely evacuated the aircraft. The insurance declared the aircraft a total loss, with an estimated financial cost of 7 million US dollars.
An investigation was launched into the cause of the mishap. With the fuel tanks of the aircraft empty, the evidence was clear and convincing that fuel starvation led to the forced landing. During the flight it became obvious that there was a clear shortage of fuel, however, the crew did not decide to divert prior to reaching a more than critical flight status. The investigation found evidence of the following contributing factors;
Insufficient mission planning
Insufficient flight planning
Lack of tasks prioritization
Pressure to meet mission demands
The aircraft in a better condition (©Paul Nelhams)