Two Embraer EMB-120 Accidents, Same Runway, Same Day!

By Spyros Georgilidakis | December 2, 2023

Two different Embraer EMB-120 turboprops were involved in similar-looking accidents on the same runway last Tuesday. Coincidence?

This was a bizarre pair of accidents, that happened on the 28th of November. The location was the Kikoboga Airstrip (HTMK), which serves the Mikumi National Park in Tanzania. Some sources and local authorities reported that both aircraft belong to Unity Air Zanzibar.

Two Embraer EMB-120 Accidents, Same Runway, Same Day!
The aircraft involved in the first accident. Photo: @JacdecNew via X (formerly Twitter)

However, it appears that technically at least, the operator of one of the aircraft, 5H-FLM, is Sindbard Air, but flew on behalf of Unity Air. This was a 27-year-old turboprop and belonged to Flightlink, a Tanzania-based lessor. Both accidents involved Embraer EMB-120 “Brasilia” turboprops.

The other aircraft, with registration 5H-MJH, had its accident first. It is 22 years old and appears to belong to Unity Air Zanzibar. This aircraft departed from Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (HTZA in Zanzibar, heading for Kikoboga.

Two Embraer EMB-120 Accidents, Same Runway, Same Day!
Photo: @JacdecNew via X (formerly Twitter)

The first of the two accidents happened when this EMB-120 arrived over its destination. While still in the air, its flight crew radioed that they were experiencing problems with their landing gear. We don’t know their departure time from Zanzibar, but they eventually landed at 3:40 AM local time.

The Two EMB-120 Accidents

The right main landing gear of the aircraft collapsed as it landed. The turboprop veered to the right and stopped on soft ground, with the remaining gear legs still intact. There were 30 passengers and 3 crew members on board, none of whom suffered any injuries.

The scene of the second accident. Photo: @JacdecNew via X (formerly Twitter)

The accidents of the two EMB-120 turboprops happened about 6 hours apart. The second time, the aircraft was taking off from Kikoboga, to head to Zanzibar. And again, it had 30 passengers and 3 crew on board.

During its takeoff roll, the aircraft’s nose gear collapsed. This caused it to veer off the runway and hit either one or both of the buildings of this airstrip. Fortunately, another common link between the two accidents is that the occupants of this EMB-120 also escaped without injuries.

Photo: Unity Air Zanzibar

There are no reports of any injuries on the ground from the two accidents, either. Some photos of the scene seem to show that the first EMB-120 was still where it stopped when the second one had its accident.

At this time, it is not clear how the two EMB-120 accidents may be linked, beyond the fact that they were part of the same operation. Some observers pointed out that the runway at Kikoboga is unpaved, something that puts additional stress on an aircraft’s landing gear. However, the first aircraft reported trouble after departing Zanzibar, which appears to have an asphalt runway.

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