A Soviet era Ilyushin-76 crashed while landing in Brazzaville, capital of Congo Friday November 30th 2012, evening time with at least 3 deaths confirmed. The cargo plane had departed Pointe-Noire, the country oil exploitation hub facing the Atlantic Ocean only 250 miles away carrying vehicles and other goods. From preliminary news report including the site Oeil d Afrique, it appears that the giant cargo plane failed to come to a full stop after having landed. Instead the Il-76 veered off the end of the runway and over running the landing strip perimeter, stuck several houses and a bar, before finally coming to a stop in a ravine. At this point it appears that the more than twenty casualties reported but not confirmed include inhabitants whose houses were struck by the plane. The aircraft was being operated by Ukrainian crews on behalf of a local company identified as either Aero Services or Trans Air Congo. The Ilyushin Il-76 is a giant cargo aircraft powered by 4 jet engines. The aircraft began production in the early 1970’s designed primarily to fulfill logistical requirements of the soviet armed forces but has since then evolved into a surprisingly successful commercial cargo aircraft through various re-engining and systems upgrades programs. With production numbers nearing 1,000 the aircraft has become a very popular 50 Tonnes -class cargo for operators seeking lower cost of acquisitions. Its versatility has allowed to serve as an Airborne Radar Surveillance platform designated A-50 in service with the Russian and Indian Air Forces, as well as a Tanker designated Il-78 MIDAS. In Africa older models Il-76s piloted by Ukrainian and Russian personnel are routinely contracted for commercial, military, humanitarian and even weapons smuggling (Angola’s, Congo republic and Democratic Republic of Congo) flights.
Again aircraft safety is becoming an increasing area of concerns in Africa following crashes in Ghana and Nigeria earlier this year. For peoples in Brazzaville this accident is striking a nerve following the devastation that took lace in April when a huge ammunition depot exploded killing hundreds. This crash will also stir the memories of the An-12 that crashed into a neighborhood in Pointe Noire on March 21st 2011 killing 14 peoples.