African Express Airways MD-82 Sustains Damage in Malakal Airport Incident


 On February 9th, 2024, tragedy struck as an African Express Airways MD-82 aircraft, bearing registration number 5Y-AXL, faced a critical landing incident at Malakal Airport in South Sudan. The aircraft, on a routine flight from Juba to Malakal, endured a perilous landing sequence resulting in significant structural damage.

As the MD-82 approached runway 04 for touchdown, it encountered difficulties, leading to an early contact with the ground, well before the intended runway threshold. This premature touchdown caused the collapse of the main landing gear upon impact, precipitating severe damage to the fuselage and undercarriage.

Eyewitness accounts and preliminary reports suggest that the aircraft, unable to maintain its trajectory, descended short of the runway, resulting in the harrowing collapse of its primary landing gear assembly. Despite the distressing nature of the incident, all occupants on board, though the precise number remains a subject of contention, were successfully evacuated from the stricken aircraft.

Prompt emergency response teams, including airport personnel and local authorities, swiftly mobilized to the scene to ensure the safe evacuation of passengers and crew. Efforts to restore normalcy and conduct preliminary inspections commenced immediately, with the closure of Malakal Airport's runway to facilitate thorough examinations and necessary repairs.

The aftermath of the incident has prompted inquiries into the cause and circumstances surrounding the ill-fated landing. Official investigations, involving meticulous data collection and witness testimonies, are underway to ascertain the root cause of the mishap. Authorities remain steadfast in their commitment to uncovering the truth behind the incident, with findings expected to shed light on the sequence of events leading to the catastrophic landing.

5Y-AXL, the beleaguered MD-82 involved in the incident, boasts a storied history spanning nearly four decades. Originally delivered to Alitalia in January 1985, the aircraft transitioned to African Airways Express' fleet in September 2009, where it served diligently until its untimely encounter at Malakal Airport.

In light of the incident, African Express Airways has temporarily suspended cargo operations, redirecting resources to support ongoing investigations and ensure passenger safety. The closure of Malakal Airport's runway is anticipated to disrupt regional air travel, prompting passengers to seek alternative arrangements and stay abreast of updates from airline authorities.

This unfortunate event serves as a sobering reminder of the inherent risks and challenges inherent in aviation operations, underscoring the paramount importance of robust safety protocols and vigilant oversight in preserving air travel integrity and passenger well-being.


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