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Midair over Namibia, 27-12-02

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Midair over Namibia, 27-12-02

Old 6th Jan 2003, 05:41
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Midair over Namibia, 27-12-02

Boeing 737, C404 collide over Namibia, land safely.
The Sunday Times

Windhoek, Namibia -- A major midair disaster was narrowly avoided when an Angolan Boeing 737 passenger jet and a twin-engine aircraft collided at 11 500ft near Windhoek the day after Christmas.
Aviation experts say it is a miracle that the two aircraft did not crash, killing all passengers and crew.

The wing of a TAAG Boeing 737-200, with nearly 50 passengers and crew on board, sliced through the tail section of the 10-seater Cessna 404 after taking off and climbing out from Windhoek International Airport bound for the Angolan capital, Luanda.

The Cessna had earlier taken off from Windhoek's Eros municipal airport and was heading for Tsumkwe in the northwest of Namibia to collect a film crew.

The pilot of the Westair Aviation Cessna, who was alone in the aircraft, managed to land safely at Eros although 40% of the tail fin and rudder had been lost, with the right-hand elevator and tailplane suffering extensive damage.

The wing of the Boeing, which seats up to 128 passengers, was also damaged but it is not known to what extent.

Aviation authorities in South Africa have for years been warning about the parlous state of air traffic control and equipment in sub-Saharan Africa and the potential for a midair collision.

In September 1997 two military transport aircraft, one American and the other German, collided at 35 000ft off the coast of Namibia, killing 33 passengers and crew.

Several foreign airlines fly to Windhoek, including SAA, SA Express, BA/Comair and SA Airlink.

But what has shocked and stunned the aviation industry is that the captain of the Angolan B737 continued on his journey, landing at Lubango in Angola - about an hour's flying time away - without returning to Windhoek to inspect the damage done to his aircraft.

"This verges on the criminal," said an SAA pilot who flies 737s. "The captain had no idea of the extent of the damage to his aircraft."

The president of the Airline Pilots' Association of South Africa, Captain Deryck Leathers, said this week that the actions of the TAAG crew were tantamount to fleeing the scene of a crime.

"The crew were irresponsible in not immediately returning to Windhoek to check the status of their damaged aircraft to ensure the safety of their passengers," Leathers said, adding that the association's warnings of a looming disaster in Africa more than five years ago had largely fallen on deaf ears.

"What we need to do now is get on with the inquiry into the collision and take the necessary action to remedy the causes."

The pilot of the Cessna, Rolf Traupe, described his experience this week: "I saw a flash of orange [the Boeing's nose section] out of the corner of my eye.

"I did not feel any impact and thought the jet had just missed me. But then I heard the Angolan pilots complaining about damage to their wing. I knew then they had hit me."

Traupe said he felt the turbulence of the Boeing buffet his aircraft, which began to vibrate.

"I reduced speed to maintain control of the aircraft, and because I could not see the extent of the damage, I thought it was minor as the aircraft was flying quite normally."

However on returning to Eros, Traupe was stunned when controllers informed him that "there's nothing left of your tail".

Westair chief executive Wolfgang Grellmann said it was a miracle that no one was killed. "This was as close as anyone can get to a tragedy without costing lives," Grellmann said.

"It is an extremely cheap lesson for our aviation authorities. For years there have been calls to authorities to upgrade infrastructure but nothing happens. This could so easily have been a 737 and a 747."

Grellmann said faulty radio equipment in the tower at Windhoek, which is not equipped with radar, might have been part of the problem.

"I know that Rolf called them several times asking them to change frequency as he was only hearing every third word or so, but the tower did not comply, for whatever reason."

He added that the TAAG crew might have had similar problems.

"The Boeing was climbing through 11 500ft and both pilots must have been looking down at their instruments not to have seen the Cessna. I can only assume therefore that they did not know it was in the vicinity."

Grellmann added that Westair had heard nothing from TAAG.

"I received a call this week from Luanda from a man claiming to be a military pilot wanting to know the fate of the Cessna. He would not leave a name or number. I think he might have been a crew member on the 737."

An inquiry has been launched by the Accident Investigation Branch of Namibia's Ministry of Transport. Tapes of conversations between air traffic controllers and the pilots concerned have been impounded.

Does anybody know where to find some pictures of the damage ???
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Old 6th Jan 2003, 07:34
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Air Transport Intelligence had a story on this last week with a couple of photos of the damage. Nasty - and very lucky.
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Old 6th Jan 2003, 08:03
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There's a few pictures here as well.
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Old 6th Jan 2003, 11:12
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Wouldn't be terribly happy as a passenger on a 737 which had just been in a mid-air collision in the climb and then continued to it's destination!

What were the crew thinking?
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Old 6th Jan 2003, 20:33
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They both have been extremely lucky seeing the damage on the 404. Incidentally was the 737 not TCAS equipped (or the 404 not squawking at the time ?) someone knows if Namibia has not yet signed the ICAO ACAS recommendations ( not yet globally mandatory, I agree )

To the Namibian defence, the earlier collision mentionned in the article (C141/Tu154) did not involve Namibia directly.
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Old 7th Jan 2003, 01:13
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Hmmm, guess those twin Cessna aeroplanes are mighty tough... Wonder if they have a good sheet metal guy...
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Old 7th Jan 2003, 04:55
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em ah ... just a birdstrike, get the duct tape ...
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Old 7th Jan 2003, 07:48
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The C404 was squawking at the time.
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Old 7th Jan 2003, 15:15
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Squawk? I'll bet he more than squawked when he saw the damage....BTW, can you imagine the announcement?

"This is your captain speaking. You may have noticed a slight bump - well, there's nothing to worry about, we hit another aeroplane but it was only a little one. The cabin crew will be coming round with drinks and light refreshments as soon as we've exchanged insurance details with them and had a stiff one ourselves. Thank you for flying with TAAG."
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Old 10th Jan 2003, 09:25
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Grellmann said faulty radio equipment in the tower at Windhoek, which is not equipped with radar, might have been part of the problem.
Yeah Yeah.....that must be it.
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Old 10th Jan 2003, 11:36
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This was on another thread, I have repeated it here. It seems the chap Grellman can't quite decide whether there is radar at Windhoek, he said the opposite to Flight to that reported here.

If you have spent any time in that part of the world, the TAAG actions would not surprise you. Some years ago, on North African airline wrote off three near new B727-200s ( Yes, 3, its not a typing error) in one day. And it never even made the western media.

Cap’n Bloggs,

The only recent midair I have been able to find in Africa was on Dec.26,2002, close to Windhoek.

As reported by Flight International 7-13 Jan., both aircraft were in contact with Windhoek tower, or should have been, but there are some suggestions of radio problems.

Both aircraft were or should have been operating on clearances from Windhoek tower, and bot aircraft had serviceable transponders. It is not reported whether there was serviceable primary or secondary radar available at Windhoek, and if either aircraft was identified, but it sound like both pilots expected to be and at least one was operating on a clearance for Windhoek tower, and both expected to be radar identified.

If this is the accident to which you refer, I don’t see the relevance to the US style CTAF proposals in the NAS, other than the fact that no midair would be a happy experience.

Have a look at the Australian record, excluding gliders, we don’t do too badly in organizing mid-airs in controlled airspace.

Tootle pip !!
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Old 10th Jan 2003, 12:46
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Windhoek ATC was donated an old east German mobile military radar about 10 years ago. It never did work properly though.
Procedural controlling is practised here. Or maybe none....!

The aircraft transiting the TMA(C404) would have received a clearance to enter controlled airspace from the ATC at the departure aerodrome (Eros) and would then be on the same frequency as the B737 was which departed from FYWH.
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Old 10th Jan 2003, 20:23
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What was unbelieveable was how the driver of the 73 (cant call him a captain) continued for two additional sectors with no complaints from his apprentice. Is that sort of thing normal in that region? In my company I would have been fired for not landing as soon as possible and having engineering look at the damage
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Old 10th Jan 2003, 21:19
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one North African airline wrote off three near new B727-200s ( Yes, 3, its not a typing error) in one day. And it never even made the western media.
Yeah, sure. Chapter and verse please !
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Old 11th Jan 2003, 08:45
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Yep NG thats normal, come to west africa as an expat and have your mind blown by the locals.

It is a daily routine to dodge the locals over here even the former soviet bloc guy are wary of them.

CFIT will continue to be a leading cause of deceleration sickness, along with minimal situational awareness and lack of handling skills.

Just another day in Africa
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Old 12th Jan 2003, 00:40
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NG.....What do you mean you would have been fired if you didn't land as soon as possible to let engineering have a look at the damage.?? Quite frankly, in 99.99% of cases you would be dead, (and your pax) so why would you care.?
I just cannot conceive how this guy carried on to his (INITIAL destination) that's number one. But if you read the report, (It get's worse) he landed at his first stopover, and then CARRIED ON AFTER THAT TO THE FINAL DESTINATION.!!!! The South African Team who were responsible for the maintenance, then grounded the aircraft for repairs.
Call me old fashioned, but if you hit another aircraft in midair, I would have regarded it as an MEL item....wouldn't you.?? I certainly would have regarded my ability to enter it into the Tech log as a plus.!!! Cheeeech.
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Old 12th Jan 2003, 01:25
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The Hollywood production of this event will be called "Carry On Regardless."
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Old 12th Jan 2003, 15:24
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TAAG Boeing 737-200 Minimum Equipment List

Section 18-2 Inflight or Ground collisions.

After suspected collision irispective of damage to airframe carry out the following actions before dispatch.

- Ensure crew have required duty free onboard.
- Ensure that pax have been threatened / bribed to say nothing.
- Ensure that at least 2 wings and 2 engines are attached to the airframe. (time ex and or damaged parts are accecptable).
- Ensure all bullet holes are pluged with cuca bottle tops, any larger damaged airframe sections can be fixed with toyota hiace parts and body panels.
- Ensure that all FAP (foreign aircraft parts) and / or ground equipment are removed from airframe before dispatch. This includes titan tails, ramp rats and baggage carts.

All other requirements of the MEL & FOM are to be considered as advisor only. This shall ensure the continued servicability of the aircraft for the next schedule service.

Fly safe and have a nice day, and remember its always a foreigners fault.

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Old 12th Jan 2003, 15:31
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Nice one Mr. Driver!!
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Old 12th Jan 2003, 15:43
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In Greek restaurants, you are invited to walk into the kitchen to choose your food.

Perhaps with TAAG and suchlike operators, the SLF should be invited to observe the walkaround
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