Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lufthansa MD-11 freighter accident at Riyadh

by B. N. Sullivan

A Lufthansa Cargo MD-11 freighter (registration D-ALCQ) crashed while landing at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on the morning of July 27, 2010.  Operating as Lufthansa Cargo Flt LH 8460, the aircraft was arriving at Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport (RUH) from Frankfurt, Germany (FRA).  The aircraft left the runway after touchdown, broke apart, and burst into flames.  The two crew members on board survived the accident.

According to a statement on the Lufthansa Cargo website, the accident occurred at 11:38 AM local time.  The 39 year-old captain and 29 year-old first officer evacuated the aircraft using the emergency slide.  They were hospitalized after the accident.

Lufthansa reported that the accident aircraft, which was carrying 80 tonnes of cargo, was flying from Frankfurt to Hong Kong, and was scheduled for en route stopovers in Riyadh and Sharja.  The aircraft had undergone a C-Check (comprehensive maintenance check) on June 22, 2009, and an A-Check immediately prior to the Frankfurt to Riyadh.  The accident aircraft had logged 10,073 take-offs and around 73,200 flying hours, according to the company.

Some news reports about the accident mentioned that the crew  had received a fire indication and declared an emergency while on approach, but this has not been officially confirmed by either the company or the Saudi aviation officials.

Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) is in charge of the investigation.  Experts from Lufthansa Cargo, and a team from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have been dispatched to Riyadh to assist the Saudi GACA with the investigation.