Arusha. Aviation experts from Dar es Salaam will arrive here today to investigate yesterday’s incident in which a light aircraft heading to Zanzibar was forced to land on a maize field shortly after taking off from Arusha Airport.
An official of Coastal Aviation confirmed yesterday that the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) was sending experts to investigate the accident in which four passengers and the pilot escaped unhurt.
“The mishap was caused by a mechanical problem experienced soon after the plane took off at 12.50pm,” he said. Details of the incident were not readily available as Coastal Aviation officials were busy seeking an alternative charter flight for their passengers.
The plane involved in the mishap was a 13-seater Cessna 208 Caravan, which crash-landed on a maize field about one-and-a-half kilometres from the airport.
Eyewitnesses said the plane came down after failing to gain altitude after taking off from Arusha Airport.
A statement issued later by Coastal Aviation Accountable Manager Julian Edmunds said the pilot executed a forced landing following a sudden power loss after taking off.
“There were no injuries to the passengers or the pilot. There was no damage to the aircraft. Coastal Aviation is assisting the Tanzania Air Accident Investigation branch, TCAA and other relevant authorities in their investigations.” Arusha Regional Police Commander Charles Mkumbo and other security officials rushed to the airport located 12 kilometres west of Arusha, off the road linking the city with Dodoma.
The airport, one of the oldest in the country and used mainly for charter flights to national parks, has seen an increase in traffic in recent years with operators preferring it because of its proximity to the city.
The airport was last in the news in December 2013 when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 airliner skidded off the runway during an emergency landing. It took about two days for the aircraft to be towed to safety. It later safely took off.
Several fatal accidents have occurred, the last one being in April 2013 when a prominent businessman in Moshi, Mr Peter Joseph Mallya, alias Bob Sambeke, died on Saturday evening when the light plane he was piloting crashed near the airport.