Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Cargo crashes, without a funny animal story

There’s nothing like a funny animal story to liven up the headlines. On 29th January a Qantas plane developed problems in its auxiliary power unit mid-flight between Melbourne and Auckland land was forced to land. A dog had escaped from its cage and chewed its way out of the cargo hold, through some heavy duty interior panel and electrical wiring. Apparently the dog, of unknown breed, was distressed but unharmed. Dog grounds Qantas plane

Cargo plane crashes do not get the attention of passenger flights, like the drama of the miraculous safe landing of the US Airways Airbus in the Hudson River on 16th January. We don’t even hear much about the near misses. On 20th January it was reported that a cargo plane had crashed on landing at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines because the landing gear collapsed on touchdown. It was a domestic flight carrying fish from Palawan. Nobody was injured but cargo crew and people living in the flightpath are not always so lucky. On 8th July 2008 a Kalitta Air cargo plane crashed into a house on take off from Bogota, Colombia. The crew were OK but two occupants of the house were killed. The plane was full of flowers destined for Miami.

Sudan in particular has a lamentable air safety record. In June 2008 there were two cargo crashes within three days of each other. On 27th June a cargo plane crashed near the town of Malakal, killing seven people, and on 30th June a cargo plane crashed on taking off from Khartoum, killing four people and only narrowly missing residential buildings. Cargo plane crahses in Khartoum Living in the flightpath can be dangerous as well as unpleasant.

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