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Bek Air’s IATA Code Withdrawn, by Travel Radar Correspondent David Hopwood

On December 27th last year, our correspondent Ankur Deo reported on the crash of a Bek Air Fokker 100 in the Kazakhstan city of Almaty. The aircraft failed to gain altitude, broke through a concrete wall at the end of the runway and crashed into a two-story building. 78 people were hospitalised and sadly 12 people lost their lives in the accident, including the captain.

The possible causes of the accident were three-fold; ice accumulation on the wings, wake turbulence and the attempted take off at a speed less than Vr. Icing was identified as the most likely cause, given the temperature at the time was -12°c.

Bek Air Fokker-100 ©Nikolay Ustinov

As a result of that incident the Kazakh civil aviation (KAA) regulators suspended the airline’s certificate the same day until further notice. Bek Air appealed the suspension claiming that no explanation was given at the time, that the suspension was therefore premature, and this amounted to a ‘gross violation’ of the procedure. It demanded that the suspension must be lifted. The airline has been given six months to rectify the shortcomings on penalty of having its air operator’s certificate withdrawn.

The KAA identified two major findings leading to the suspension;

  • Bek Air had been cannibalising parts from other aircraft to replace expired components and failed to maintain proper maintenance logs making it virtually impossible to track actual service history of critical parts. Bek Air cited the difficulties in finding spares for the aircraft which vary in age from 24 and 30 years. In addition metal identification plates from the engines had been removed, again making impossible the identification of the engines’ actual flight hours or cycles. Rolls Royce said they had no evidence of maintenance of the engines and confirmed that no procedures required removal of the plates. Bek Air claim the removal of plates is not itself illegal.

 

  • The airline had failed to implement required procedures regarding pre-flight inspections of wing leading edges. CCTV recordings from Almaty provided evidence for this failure. The airline claims that the CCTV footage is unreliable and that it regularly conducts appropriate training for its personnel.

IATA doubts Bek’s assertions and has formally notified the airline that its designation ‘Z9’ has been withdrawn since the operator ‘no longer meets the qualification’ to retain it; the designation would be made available to other operators in 60 days’ time, if Bek Air failed to prove itself eligible.

One to avoid for the time being perhaps…

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