August 27, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – A Russian plane that crashed last week in Sudan’s southern region of Kordofan was ordered to be grounded by inspectors four days before takeoff, a local newspaper has revealed, shedding more light on the mishap that killed 32 people including top government officials.
- Ghazi al-Sadiq Sudan’s former minister for religious affairs just last month (AFP)
The official narrative has it that “bad weather conditions” caused the Antonov AN-26 flight to crash on 19 August near Talodi town in South Kordofan, killing all 32 people on board including the minister of religious affairs Ghazi al-Sadeq along with a host of military, security and civilian officials who were heading to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr holiday with government forces in the area.
The pro-government daily Al-Intibaha reported on Monday that the local carrier to which the plane belongs, Alfa Airlines, had ignored a decision by the country’s aviation authorities to ground its Antonov AN-26 fleet after an inspection team concluded that the plane’s condition was in serious violations of safety standards.
The paper published a letter addressed to Alfa Airlines from the director of safety and standards department at the Sudanese Civil Aviation Corporation (SCAP) Haile Belai who stated that the violations identified by the team include “violations of flight time limitations and fuel carried not covering the minimum required for a flight”.
He pointed out that the inspection team produced its report on 16 August and discussed the findings with the Alfa Air management, informing it that “such abuse of regulatory and safety requirements should immediately stop”.
- Aircraft similar to the one which crashed (Antonov AN-26)
“It is therefore decided that the AN-24 and AN-26 aircraft be grounded until the inspection is completed above” the letter stated.
The revelation will certainly stoke public anger over the incident which saw the chief of SCAP, Mohammed Abdel Aziz, tendering his resignation to President Omer Al-Bashir who is yet to accept it.
Meanwhile, the authorities announced the beginning of an investigation into the crash and said that the plane’s black box will be sent to Russia to determine the cause of the crash.
Sudan complains that its aviation sector has been degraded by more than ten years of US economic sanctions which prevent the country from buying spare parts. Recently the European Union decided to ban Sudanese aircraft from entering its airspace citing lack of safety standards.