Friday July 24, 2020
FILE - The Director of Somalia's Civil Aviation Authority, Ahmed Moalin Hassan
Beledweyne (HOL) - For the second time this week, officials in Somalia are rebuffing reports in Kenyan media that a donkey caused a plane to crash at an airport in Beledweyne.
The Business Daily, a subsidiary of the Nation Group, reported on Friday that grazing donkeys frightened by an oncoming plane veered onto the runway causing the pilots to swerve and crash into a "heaps of sand on the flight strip".
The author of the article cited a preliminary report from Somalia's Civil Aviation Authority as the basis for his story.
The de Havilland Canada DHC-8-400, turboprop plane operated by Bluebird Aviation crashed during landing at Ugas Khalif Airport on July 14 with three occupants - two pilots and one ground engineer - who have survived the accident.
The Director of Somalia's Civil Aviation Authority, Ahmed Moalin Hassan categorically denied that a donkey caused the plane crash and while speaking to HOL, questioned the veracity of the author's source.
"I don't know where the Business Daily got their preliminary report from. As someone close to the investigation, I can confirm it is still ongoing, and nothing has been released."
The Director said that he would like to limit his comments until a preliminary report is published but said that early findings could conclusively rule out a donkey was the root cause of the accident.
Firstly, he said that the airport perimeter is secured by a fence and is controlled by AMISOM soldiers. At the time of the accident, the plane was chartered by the U.S. Department of Defense and was carrying supplies for the AMISOM mission. He suggested that the troops would have been expecting the flight and would have made arrangements to secure the incoming cargo, making access by a rogue donkey unlikely.
Hassan also said the pilot should have had more situational awareness by reading his notice to airmen (NOTAM) before departing Djibouti.
"If the pilot would have read the NOTAM, he would have known that there was construction on Runway 22 and would not have attempted a dangerous landing."
A NOTAM is a notice filed by an aviation authority to alert pilots of any hazards along a flight path.
The black box which will reveal key details about the accident will be sent to the aircraft manufacturer in Canada.
The Hiiraan Governor Ali Jeyte Osman told HOL that he believes the airport is being scapegoated to cover up a pilot error and worries the effect the false media reports may have on the region.
On July15, Nairobi based website, Kenyan.co.ke quoting airline's General Manager Captain Hussein Mohamed, reported that the aircraft crashed landed while trying to avoid hitting a donkey on the runway. Governor Osman pushed back against those comments when he spoke to HOL earlier in the week.
The Civil Aviation Director is also concerned about the reports and said the department is currently weighing its legal options for defamation and libel.