Georgian Airways flight UNO834 crashed on 04 April 2011 ; a Georgian Airways Canadian Regional Jet (CRJ 100 ER), registration 4L-GAE, using call sign „UNO 834‟, operating a domestic flight from Kisangani to Kinshasa for United Nation’s Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), crashed during the process of Go Around at Kinshasa Airport, at 1256 52 UTC.
At the time of the accident, Kinshasa airfield was experiencing a severe thunderstorm. The aircraft impacted the ground 170 meters to the left and abeam the displaced threshold of Runway 24 in about a 10 degrees nose down attitude. At the time of impact, aircraft‟s heading was 220 degrees and its speed was 180 knots. Following the impact, the aircraft skipped, started breaking up, skidded along the ground and rolled inverted before coming to a halt.
At the time of the accident, Kinshasa airfield was experiencing a severe thunderstorm.
During this process, parts of the aircraft including undercarriage, engines, wings and tail section sheared off. Major part of the fuselage including the cockpit portion, came to a rest inverted in one piece about 400 meters beyond the initial impact point. The aircraft was carrying 29 passengers and 4 crew members. 32 persons died in the accident, the sole survivor was severely injured.
Probable cause of the Accident:
The most probable cause of the accident was the aircraft’s encounter with a severe Microburst like weather phenomenon at a very low altitude during the process of Go Around. The severe vertical gust/downdraft caused a significant and sudden pitch change to the aircraft which resulted in a considerable loss of height. Being at very low altitude, recovery from such a disturbance was not possible.
The possibility of a somatogravic illusion caused Loss Of Control (LOC) as the primary cause of the accident, was also discussed by the investigation team. This was ruled out based on available evidence which showed that during the Go Around, the crew had initiated the climb at 1256 32 and had thereafter, maintained a climbing attitude for the next 12 seconds. At 1256 44, the aircraft experienced a sudden and steep nose down attitude change without a corresponding control input by the crew (as shown by FDR), Hence, Somatogravic Illusion caused Loss of Control was ruled out as a cause of accident.
Probable contributing factors:
1. The inappropriate decision of the crew to continue the approach, in face of extremely inclement weather being displayed on their weather radar, was probably the principle contributing factor responsible for the accident.
2. Lack of adequate supervision by the Operator to ensure that its crew complied with established procedures including weather avoidance procedures and Stabilized Approach criteria, was a probable contributing factor.
3. Inadequacy of Georgian Airways Training program for upgrade to Captain was a probable contributing Factor.
4. Lack of effective oversight of Georgian Airways by Georgian CAA was a probable contributing factor.
5. Lack of appropriate equipment at Kinshasa airport for identification and tracking of adverse weather phenomenon, resulting in failure by ATC to provide appropriate early warning to the aircraft, was probably a contributing factor.
6. ATC not declaring the airfield closed when visibility dropped below Minima was a probable contributory factor.