A Kenyan-registered Fokker 50 has crash landed in Somalia. Unconfirmed reports from emergency services state that the aircraft, registered 5Y-WFC, was carrying aid and medical supplies.
The crash occurred at Bardere (Bardera) Airport, at approximately 12:00 local time on 5th July. When the aircraft touched down on the dirt strip, the right main landing gear collapsed; subsequently causing the aircraft to veer off the runway. It is unclear what exactly caused the collapse.
Photos from local media outlet Kahawa Tungu show that the propeller tips were damaged after contacting the ground. For reference, the dirt-covered tips are usually painted bright yellow.
Additionally, the right tyre of the nose wheel is missing in the photo; although it cannot be confirmed if it was lost during the accident.
The aircraft is owned and operated by Buff Air Services, which offers scheduled passenger services, cargo and charter flights. It operates out of Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. The Fokker 50 involved is Buff Air’s only aircraft, although the company plans to add more aircraft in the coming years.
Local officials have confirmed that the aircraft took off in Mogadishu, Somalia. Because the gear collapsed almost immediately after touching down in Bardere, it is possible that there was an existing defect within the landing gear.
The runway itself is made from local sandy soil and is generally compacted to make it serviceable; however, loose stones and sharp rocks can accumulate over time. When an aircraft is touching down at high speed, these stones could theoretically puncture a tyre.
When wet or damp, dirt landing strips can prove slippery to aircraft. Past accidents have occurred when aircraft have lost traction, careering off the runway. Bardere has experienced generally fine weather in previous days, but no cause can be entirely ruled out.
The Bardere runway measures 4,265 ft × 98 ft (1300m x 30m) and primarily handles Cessna Caravan and Beechcraft 1900 aircraft.
What Causes a Landing Gear Collapse?
Generally, landing gear failures have five root causes:
- Components used beyond serviceable limits, causing structural weakness the gear
- Malfunction of tyres, either through deflating or becoming detached from the gear strut
- Electrical failure, resulting in the landing gear not securely locking
- Hydraulic failure, causing components to not move freely and placing heavy strain on the gear strut
- Missing components, due to poor maintenance or accidental removal