Reports confirm that a commercial aircraft belonging to South Sudan Supreme Airlines crashed after take off, from a South Sudan airstrip. Local authorities confirm that two pilots and eight passengers have perished.
The South Sudan Supreme aircraft was on a charter flight, from the Pieri Airstrip in Uror County of Jonglei State. Some local sources say that its passengers were “business people”. Its next stop would be Yuai Town, and it would then return to its base, in Juba. At approximately 16:30-17:05 local time (reports vary), it took off but crashed immediately afterwards. The exact circumstances of the crash are unclear. However the few available pictures show that the aircraft is completely destroyed.
Which South Sudan Supreme Aircraft?
At this time, the type of the aircraft that crashed is not clear. South Sudan Supreme Airlines operates Antonov An-26 and Let L-410 aircraft. Both of them could operate in the airstrip in question. Other images purporting to be from the crash show an engine and tail section from an An-26. Authorities confirm that its registration is HK-4274.
There is no information online about an aircraft with such a registration. ‘HK’ is the prefix of aircraft registrations in Colombia. However, Juba Airport authorities do confirm that an aircraft with this registration had departed their airport, for Pieri. Some reports suggest that this aircraft was a new acquisition for South Sudan Supreme Airlines.
The Pieri Airstrip consists of an unpaved runway, approximately 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) long. Both the Antonov and the Let could operate from such an airport. Information on the incident is coming from both Jonglei State local government and local opposition sources.
South Sudan Supreme Airlines have had a troubled history. Their previous name was South Supreme Airlines. And the one before that, was Feeder Airlines. They started operations as South Supreme Airlines in 2013, with two Fokker 50A’s. In 2014 they had a 737-300 in their fleet, but ceased operations in that guise in 2015. They started again but ceased operations in 2017, after a crash involving an Antonov An-26.
UPDATE: Aircraft Type Confirmed
After earlier conflicting reports, it now seems that the aircraft that crashed was a Let L-410 UVP the registration, HK-4274, is fake. The same South Sudan Supreme aircraft previously had another fake registration (from Burundi). Before that, the same aircraft had another fake registration, from Gabon (TR-KSS). Based on the paint scheme of the accident aircraft, it seems likely that it is 5Y-DAD (mfg. sn 902436), an aircraft that South Sudan Supreme had acquired in 2014.
Unfortunately it seems that the airline has a history of changing registrations to its aircraft, after the deception becomes obvious. This probably explains why it is so difficult to find current pictures of its fleet. The Let L-410 UVP is a very potent, small STOL aircraft from Let Kunovice, in the Czech Republic.
Also note that we previously removed a picture from this article, that we had sourced from AvHerald. As its publisher points out, the image came from a much older incident, even though it appeared in South Sudan media, relating to this story. The other picture appears to be genuine, for now.