South West Aviation AN26 at Juba on Aug 22nd 2020, lost height after departure

Last Update: June 16, 2024 / 15:28:31 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Aug 22, 2020

Classification
Crash

Destination
Wau, South Sudan

Aircraft Registration
EX-126

Aircraft Type
Antonov An-26

ICAO Type Designator
AN26

A South West Aviation Antonov AN-26 freighter, registration EX-126 (MSN 11508) performing a charter flight from Juba to Wau (South Sudan) with 6 passengers and 3 crew, lost height shortly after departure from Juba's runway 31 at 08:30L (05:30Z) and impacted a farm about 2.5nm from the runway end almost on the extended runway centerline coming to rest at position N4.9049 E31.5511 after leaving a wreckage trail of about 125 meters (first impact at approx. N4.9046 E31.5522). One passenger survived in critical condition, all three crew and 5 passengers died in the crash.

The aircraft was to carry a load of money for wages in addition to other goods to Aweil.

The airport reported the aircraft belonging to South West Aviation was bound for Aweil with 8 people on board.

South Sudan's Transport Minister reported the aircraft chartered by the World Food Programme (WFP) carried 3 crew and 5 passengers. One passenger survived, 7 people were killed in the accident.

On Aug 24th 2020 South Sudan's President reported the aircraft carried 3 crew - 1 Ukrainian, 2 Tajiks - and 6 passengers. One passenger, a South Sudanese, survived, the others died in the accident. The aircraft was bound for Aweil with an intermediate stop in Wau.

On Sep 22nd 2020 Ukraine's NBAAI reported, they have assigned an accredited representative and joined the investigation led by South Sudan's AIB. The AN-26 registration EX-126 contacted ground about 2.5nm northwest of the runway of Juba and caught fire. The crew and 4 passengers were killed, one passenger survived with injuries.

According to the website of South West Aviation, based in Juba (South Sudan), the airline operates one AN-26 registration YI-AZR. That tailnumber is unknown in databases. A local radio station has a good number of photos of YI-AZR while being loaded with solar panels and mounting assemblies at an unknown date in the past.

An information from Kiev (Ukraine) suggests, the accident AN-26 might be MSN 11508 (former tail numbers EX-126, UN-26075, CCCP-26075).

The airline did not respond to an e-mail so far transmitted by AVH early Aug 22nd 2020 asking about the details of the accident aircraft as well as which runway was being used for departure.

On Aug 23rd 2020 The Aviation Herald received information from a ground witness (who was in Juba in 2018), that South West Aviation used to operate an AN-26 aircraft tailnumber 9Q-CGM (which is a fake registration) until at least 2018, that aircraft was known as MSN 6401 in various databases however. It remains unclear what happened to that airframe. Was it renamed to YI-AZR? Did it leave the company's fleet? Is it still around flying as 9Q-CGM? At the same time there are rumours flying around in South Sudan's media, that South West Aviation may have received a donation of another AN-26 just very recently, without techlog or any information about the airframe including no information about the operating hours of the engines. Could it be, this donated airframe was MSN 11508, which according to databases was sold to Gateway Export Aviation in July 2020 and according to information from sources in Kiev around Antonov may have been the crashed aircraft?

On Aug 24th 2020 The Aviation Herald received an aerial photo of the crash site (permitting to identify the wreckage position) and almost at the same time received final confirmation that the AN-26 MSN 11508 was the accident aircraft, still with its registration EX-126 and in the paint scheme as previously known in 2013. The aircraft had been received by Gateway Export Aviation in July 2020 according to databases, it remains unclear why it was operated by South West Aviation. YI-AZR had been operated by South West Aviation already back in 2019 and thus is not the accident aircraft.

Late Aug 24th 2020 the owner of Gateway Export Aviation reported:

We have got the information that EX-126 crashed in Juba. It is unfortunate.

EX-126 is no longer in service with us from March 2020 due to misappropriation of EX-126 for the benefit of South West Aviation.

This misappropriation was orchestrated by the owner, South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministry of Transport. We have made court cases since March to claim the aircraft or the money invested on the aircraft when we repaired it, but all our claims have not been heard or considered by authorities I mentioned above, they blocked all our requests, which we asked the DRCONGO ambassador in Juba to follow up.

They operated the aircraft since March and always violating the norms of regulations. This accident is caused by an overload of 8Tons instead of 5.5 Tons.

On Aug 25th 2020 the sole survivor reported they heard a loud bang from the right hand engine, the aircraft began to descend. The captain told them they were returning to the airport, the engine was being shut down. However, the aircraft apparently could not turn and could not maintain height. It contacted ground and burst into flames. The survivor received third degree burns almost all over the body, a severed spinal cord and a fractured right leg.

On Aug 26th 2020 The Aviation Herald received information that the aircraft MSN 11508 is still registered at Kyrgysztan's CAA with tail number EX-126, according to the registry entry the operator is still Sky Way Air. The aircraft's airworthiness certificate was last extended about 3 years ago and had since expired. The aircraft was not de-registered, Sky Way Air also did not inform Kyrgyzstan's CAA about the deals with Gateway Export Aviation and/or South West Aviation. The Aviation Herald received a number of documents about the owner of Sky Way Air where customers of his companies, both Sky Way Air and Khorasan Cargo Airlines in Afghanistan, complain about non-service despite closed contracts.

On Sep 4th 2020 The Aviation Herald received a first reply from Gateway Export Aviation to our inquiries back on August 25th 2020:

I wanted to clarify the fact that EX-126 being on our website is normal as we are the ones who took it since November 2019, Maintained it until January 2020. If you do well your investigations you will know that SKY WAY AIR was about to loose this aircraft in Juba as it has been grounded almost for two years, spares stolen...if Gateway Way would have not intervened, the aircraft would have been torn apart and sold in spares and scrapper.

Now as you have stated that South West was not replying to your enquiries, and you know well for the fact that it is South West which was operating the aircraft, then I hope you can imagine how frustrated we are as we spend more than 250,000 USD repairing that aircraft to finally be evicted or scammed by YOURI NAUMOV and SOUTH SUDANESE.

About proof or supportive documents, we have them, starting by the contract we have with YOURI NAUMOV, all works done and spares bought, the time and costs related during two months working in Juba.

We made appeals in South Sudan Courts, letters to the authorities but none responded or helped. Our crew and personnel were threatened, some had to seek protection from DRCongo embassy.

We would be glad to share all these supportive documents, but we need also to know to whom we are revealing these confidential documents and more over what we gain.

According to our research the aircraft EX-126 MSN 11508 was offered for sale by Ukraine's aircraft trader Avialux Marketing (individual Eugene Syzonenko Phone known, website unclear) in Jun 2018 with 14,912 hours/6466 cycles for 300K US$, the AVH raised the question of whether we should really believe these usage numbers for 38 years of service. The AVH also raised the question of whether Gateway Export Aviation had paid the maintenance upfront and monitored the progress of the maintenance works after the aircraft was sent to maintenance in South Sudan in January 2020, we asked which maintenance facility in South Sudan was contracted, and how it came together, that the aircraft was not returned to Gateway Export Aviation but was handed to South West Aviation.

We transmitted those additional questions, amongst others, on Sep 4th 2020 and are still, standing Sep 22nd 2020, waiting for a reply in order to get a clearer picture of several points of extreme concern. Inquiries with Antonov, Youri Naumov (Sky West Aviation, Khorasan Cargo Airlines), South Sudan Authorities remained without replies so far.

Initial media reports in South Sudan had claimed the crash site was in Hai Referendum, a surbub of Juba about 3nm southwest of the airport and abeam of the runway 13 threshold. Further information added it was near Eden, which is even closer to the city center and further east than Hai Referendum, other media reports changed to Kemiru (which is entirely unknown and could not be located). Analysis of the aerial photo identified the position past Referendom, another surbub of Juba, almost on the runway center line about 2.51nm from the end of runway 31.

In 2024 South Sudan's Ministry of Transport released a final report dated April 2024, language unknown (Editorial note: The Aviation Herald was not able to obtain a copy of the original final report, which is also not available via the ICAO archive).

A Russian translation of this report appeared on the website of the Interstate Aviation Committee concluding the probable causes could not be determined, however, the aircraft did not have a valid airworthiness certificate and crew. The aircraft was operated by South-West Aviation Ltd., who did not have a valid air operator's certificate.

The report states that the cargo manifest did not specify the total weight of the cargo, the investigation commission concluded however that the cargo weight exceeded the permitted limits.

The report also states, that the FDR and CVR, containing magnetic tapes, were found in good condition and had been read out and analysed by Ukraine's NBAAI. However, it was found that the accident flight was not contained on the black boxes due to lack of maintenance and needed updates.

The wreckage was completely destroyed due to post crash fire, including both engines and instruments/instrument panel in the cockpit.

Therefore it was not possible to determine the cause(s) of the crash.

On Jun 16th 2024 the original English final report by South Sudan's AAIB surfaced also on the MAK Website. The report concludes:

The committee for the investigations of South-West Aviation Co. Ltd An-26B aircraft, registration EX-126 has finally concluded that the accident at Juba Central Equatoria State in the Republic of South Sudan has not been determined, however the flight was preformed on the aircraft with no valid Certificate of Airworthiness by the crew of Southwest aviation ltd and the aircraft holding no valid Air operator Certificate.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Aug 22, 2020

Classification
Crash

Destination
Wau, South Sudan

Aircraft Registration
EX-126

Aircraft Type
Antonov An-26

ICAO Type Designator
AN26

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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