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Airlink emergency landing

Talk about bad luck - at the same time as Airlink's plans for Cape Town - Grand Central Airport flights were being announced, the news was completely overshadowed by the emergency landing of an Airlink plane (BAe 146 / Avro RJ - MSN 2285) at Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport. The flight left Johannesburg at 19h10 on the 10th Nov 2011 and was scheduled to land in Pietermaritzburg at 19h40, but turned back to O.R. Tambo when it became clear that the front landing gear wouldn't open. After burning fuel, a successful emergency landing was conducted. The flight was piloted by Captain Harm Kallenburg and Chris van Rensburg. Thanks to Alec Hogg, a journalist with Moneyweb, being on board, we have a number of clips (which he was kind enough to share on youtube).

Repairs to the Avro

In February 2012 BAE Systems Regional Aircraft won a contract from Airlink to carry out major repair work on the Avro RJ85 (E2285), and fix up the skin damage on the lower fuselage and the damage to the nose gear doors.

British Aerospace Avro
Photo of British Aerospace Avro 146-RJ85, taken by Bartosz Dragan

No paramedics at O.R. Tambo

With 2 hours to prepare for the emergency landing whilst the plane burnt fuel in the air, it was reported that "there was not one person with any medical training, nor an ambulance, anywhere near the scene of the crash!  Unbelievable.  What if the aircraft had broken up and there were injured people lying all over the runway? "

Runway wasn't pre-foamed

According to reports the runway wasn't pre-foamed to reduce friction & sparks.

Emergency chute problems

 "There were two pairs of emergency chutes at each end of the aircraft (Avro RJ85).  Our chutes at the rear ended up hanging in an elevated position as we had no nosewheel, and this made the angle of the chute down to the ground almost a vertical drop. 

Almost everyone had serious tumbles at the end of that chute and it was lucky no one was seriously injured apart from scraped knees etc.  Also the emergency door needed two strong people to heave it open before the chute actually triggered and deployed. 

At the front of the aircraft, one chute deployed properly and the other just fell off completely and landed flat on the ground!  This meant that some evacuees had to jump down to terra firma."

Airlink flight 8911

This had a happy ending, unlike Airlink flight 8911 on the 24th September 2009 which resulted in a fatality and 2 injured.

Airlink flight 8911

The aftermath

To put it in Alec's words: "Taking this video almost cost me my iPhone. An officious looking gent threatened to take my cell phone away, warned me to “stop taking pictures, this is a National Key Point”. Fortunately there was about a minute and a half of footage on video by then. It shows the graunched nose and if you look carefully, the abandoned escape chute in the front of the plane where I came out (there are still people coming down the back slide)"

Captain Harm Kallenburg

Getting on the bus

Passengers

eTV was the first broadcaster on the scene.

 

"Next time I'll rather drive"

"God is good"

 

Airlink Press releases

Airlink released a number of press releases.

Press release 1

"Update Incident involving Airlink flight SA8739 at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg

November 2011
Airlink is able to provide the following updated information on this evening’s landing incident at OR Tambo International Airport, involving its flight, SA8739. 

“All of our passengers and crew are safe and are being counselled for trauma and distress. They will be accommodated in hotels tonight and arrangements are being made to get passengers to their destinations tomorrow,” explained Rodger Foster, Airlink CEO & Managing Director. 

The aircraft involved was an Avro RJ85 regional jetliner, registration ZS-SSH. It was carrying 73 passengers and 4 crew. It was built by BAE Systems in the UK in 1996 and was first flown by Lufthansa before it was acquired by Airlink in October 2010. The aircraft is powered by four Textron LF507-1F jet engines. 

The aircraft was current with its maintenance. 

The flight crew was under the command of a Captain who had logged more than 6000 flight hours including more than 2000 flight hours on Avro RJ aircraft. He was assisted by a First Officer with more than 4000 flight hours and more than 2000 flight hours on the Avro RJ, 

The flight departed OR Tambo International Airport at 19.10 this evening and was expected to land at Pietermaritzburg at 19.40. 

The SA Civil Aviation Authority will conduct an investigation. Airlink will provide any support and assistance that the investigators require. 

Further updates will be issued as information becomes available. 


Issued by Airlink 

Media contact: 
Karin Murray, Airlink 
Tel: 011 451 7335
karinmurray@flyairlink.com
"

Press release 2

"Update 02: Incident involving Airlink flight SA8739 at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg - Statement by Rodger Foster, Airlink CEO & Managing Director

November 2011
On behalf of Airlink, I offer my sincere apologies to all of our passengers and their loved ones for the distress they suffered as a result of our emergency landing at OR Tambo International Airport last night. 

I am especially grateful to our crew for their dedicated and professional response and handling of the situation. I would also like to thank the Airports Company, the emergency services, the care-givers and all others who have assisted us in taking care of our passengers and crew. 

The wellbeing and safety of our passengers, crews and aircraft are our priority. It's with this in mind that I have implemented an urgent internal review of our processes and procedures. 

The SA Civil Aviation Authority has commenced its investigation into last night's regrettable incident. In supporting the SA CAA with its investigation, we are sharing with it all information pertinent to last night's flight. This is now a matter for the investigating authority which, until it releases its findings, is the only body entitled to comment on what may have caused the incident. 

This morning I briefed the Director-General of Transport, who has promised to convey to the Minister of Transport my undertaking to work tirelessly to ensure that we do not compromise the safety of air travelers in South Africa. 


Rodger Foster 
CEO & Managing Director 
Airlink"

Press relase 3

"Update 03: Incident involving Airlink flight SA8739 at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg - Statement by Rodger Foster, Airlink CEO & Managing Director

November 2011
On behalf of Airlink, I offer my sincere apologies to all of our passengers and their loved ones for the distress they suffered as a result of our emergency landing at OR Tambo International Airport last night. 

I am especially grateful to our crew for their dedicated and professional response and handling of the situation. I would also like to thank the Airports Company, the emergency services, the care-givers and all others who have assisted us in taking care of our passengers and crew. 
The wellbeing and safety of our passengers, crews and aircraft are our priority. It's with this in mind that I have implemented an urgent internal review of our processes and procedures.

The SA Civil Aviation Authority has commenced its investigation into last night's regrettable incident. In supporting the SA CAA with its investigation, we are sharing with it all information pertinent to last night's flight. This is now a matter for the investigating authority which, until it releases its findings, is the only body entitled to comment on what may have caused the incident.

This morning I briefed the Director-General of Transport, who has promised to convey to the Minister of Transport my undertaking to work tirelessly to ensure that we do not compromise the safety of air travelers in South Africa. 


Rodger Foster 
CEO & Managing Director 
Airlink"

Press release 4

"Minister Ndebele commends emergency landing at OR Tambo Airport

November 2011
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has commended the Captain and crew of a SA Airlink plane, as well as emergency services, for their role in ensuring a successful emergency landing at OR Tambo International Airport last night (Thursday, 10 November 2011).

According to Emergency Services officials, an Airlink plane had to make an emergency landing at OR Tambo International Airport last night (10 November) after problems with its nose-wheel. The aircraft landed safely with its nose-wheel retracted. None of the passengers or crew was hurt in the emergency landing.

"We want to commend the Captain and crew of the aircraft, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS), emergency services and all other stakeholders for their role in ensuring a safe emergency landing at OR Tambo Airport last night (10 November). This again demonstrates our readiness and preparedness as a country to effectively deal with such emergencies. Safety is our top priority and, as we approach the COP17 conference in Durban, we will continue to ensure an integrated and coordinated approach to related incidents," said Minister Ndebele.


ISSUED BY: LOGAN MAISTRY - MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT


Sello Tshipi
Communications 
Tel 012 309 3846
Fax 012 309 3313
Tshipia@dot.gov.za"

CAA press releases

MEDIA STATEMENT 11 November 2011
CAA set to keep an eye on Airlink fleet following an emergency landing
Midrand - The South African Civil Aviation Authority's (SACAA) is set to keep a close eye on the SA Airlink fleet
following last night's emergency landing involving one of the airline's aircraft. The emergency landing involved the
airline's BAE Avro 146-RJ85, which was carrying 73 passengers and 4 crew members.
According to the SACAA the aircraft took off from OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) at approximately 19:10
and was destined to land at Pietermaritzburg Airport at 19:40. However, soon after takeoff the piloting crew noticed
that the aircraft's nose gear was malfunctioning. The crew then decided to return to ORTIA for an emergency
landing. The crew managed to land the aircraft safely and no one was injured.
In a statement released today, the SACAA indicated that they had received a call from the operator whilst the
aircraft was still in the air and they had immediately dispatched an investigator who arrived at the scene moments
after the aircraft had managed to land. The investigation began there and then and was intensified this morning with
more personnel allocated to the incident. The aircraft has since been taken to a nearby hangar.
"Whilst only a final report can declare with certainty the cause of this particular incident and recommendations that
need to be considered, information available at this stage suggests that human factor could have contributed to this
incident. In the meantime, we have assembled a team of inspectors who will work parallel to investigators to
conduct ramp inspections in order to ensure that an occurrence such as this and other unsafe scenarios or potential
hazards do not happen. We are thus hoping that the preliminary report together with the inspections report will be
able to guide us towards the next steps that need to be taken in this regard. In the meantime, we regret any
inconvenience that the ramp inspections may cause to the travelling public. We would also like to commend the
crew for handling this incident as professionally and safely as they did. Further tribute should go to ACSA, Air
Traffic Control personnel, Emergency Services and all other teams that were involved in this emergency, which had
undoubtedly tested them to the limit," said Mr. Zakhele Thwala the acting Director of Civil Aviation.
-ENDSAbout
the SACAA:
The South African Civil Aviation Authority ("SACAA") is a juristic body established in terms of the Civil Aviation Act, 2009 (Act
No. 13 of 2009) ("the Act"). SACAA is governed and controlled by the Civil Aviation Authority Board ("the Board"). In terms of
mandate, the SACAA is tasked with promoting and maintaining a safe, secure and sustainable civil aviation environment, by
regulating and overseeing the functioning and development of the industry in an efficient, cost-effective, and customer-friendly
manner according to international standards.
For more information contact:
Kabelo Ledwaba
Manager: Communications
South African Civil Aviation Authority
Tel. + 27 11 545 1511
Cell: + 27 83 451 2654
Email: ledwabak@caa.co.za

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