On February 3, 2005. a Boeing 737-242 aircraft with Kyrgyz Republic registration EX·037 . operated by Phoenix Aviation , was conducting Kam Air flight RQ904 from Herat to Kabul. There were a total of 105 occupants on board the Aircraft , including eight crew members and ninety-seven passengers.
Kam Air flight RQ904 was cruising at night level 270 when it contacted Bagram Radar Approach Control (“Bagram”) for descent and landing. The night was normal until it failed to level at flight level 130 during the VOR/DME approach.
At 1043:24 UTC, Bagram cleared the flight to descend at its discretion and to expect the VOR approach to runway 29. The prevailing weather was also passed on to the Aircraft. Visibility was reported 2 kilometers with snow, ceiling 2200 feet broken, wind calm and altimeter setting QNH 1016.
At 1043:58 UTC, when the Aircraft was 35 miles west of the Kabul VOR. radar contact was established with Bagram. Kam Air flight RQ904 was advised by Bagram t0 cross the VOR at or above flight level 130 and cleared it for the VOR/DME approach to runway 29.
At 1048:41 UTC Kam Air flight RQ904 reported flight level 130. Bagram again cleared the Aircraft for the VOR approach to runway 29 and advised the Aircraft to report procedure turn inbound. The crew replied that they would report proceeding inbound for the VOR approach to runway 29, This was the last transmission from Kam Air flight RQ904.
At about 1050:11 UTC, Bagram stated that radar contact had been lost with the Kam Air flight RQ904.
Bagram and Kabul Air Traffic Control Tower attempted to locate the Aircraft through radar and radio communication, but were not successful.
Search for the Aircraft was delayed and hampered due to a severe snowstorm in the region.
The Aircraft was located approximately three days later by an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) helicopter approximately 30 kilometers southeast of Kabul International Airport at N 36 27.900 E 69 30.165.
The Aircraft was destroyed by force of impact from colliding with the mountains
All 105 occupants on board the Aircraft had received fatal injuries. Subsequently, all bodies were recovered and identified .
ATC and Bagram communication transcripts were available.
No FDR or CVR data read out from Kam Air flight RQ904 was available.
Based on the very limited information available , the following findings have been drawn .
- The Aircraft belonged t0 Phoenix Aviation and had a valid Certificate of Airworthiness issued by the Kyrgyz Republic, It was operating under a wet lease agreement with Kam Air.
- The flight crew held appropriate valid licenses issued by the Kyrgyz Republic.
- Visibility reported at the time of the accident was about 2000 meters with snow and the ceiling was 2200 feet.
- No emergency was reported by the flight crew during the flight.
- Kam Air flight RQ904 was cleared by Bagram to conduct the VOR approach to Kabul runway 29
- The Aircraft collided with a mountain at about 9960 feet before reaching the Initial Approach Fix of the VOR/DME approach, south of the inbound track sometime after radar contact was lost on the Aircraft . The Aircraft was destroyed by the force of impact.
- The accident was non-survivable. All the 105 occupants on board, including eight crew members and ninety seven passengers. received fatal injuries.
- The Cockpit Voice Recorder could not be retrieved from the accident site. The Flight Data Recorder was recovered but no data was found recorded in it. According to NTSB, something corrupted the data stream of the recorder.
- The Aircraft did not adhere to the minimum altitude (13000 feet) of the VOR/DME approach
- The Aircraft was continuously descending until the time of impact at about 9960 feet and had not leveled out at 13000 feet as required during the outbound leg of VOR/DME approach.
- There was no recorded sudden loss of altitude before collision of the Aircraft with the mountain. The Aircraft was evidently controllable until the time of the accident.
- The Aircraft was under Bagram radar coverage and the last radar return showed that the Aircraft was on Kabul radial 149 and at 11.800 feet indicating that the Aircraft was not adhering to the VOR/DME approach procedure . The Bagram air traffic controller did not warn the Aircraft about the deviations from the altitude.
- The flight crew had not read back parts of the clearances given by Bagram. Bagram did not repeat these parts of the clearances to ensure that the Aircraft crew had fully understood the clearance.
Probable Cause : the accident occurred probably due to the premature descent by the Aircraft below its minimum assigned altitude of 13,000 feet during approach in weather conditions below VFR requirements. The reason for descending below the minimum altitude could not be determined due to inadequate evidence .