Category Archives: Aviation Safety / Air Crashes

Specially-configured Metroliner aircraft involved in surveillance operations in Libya crashes shortly after takeoff from Malta

Chilling dashcam video shows a Fairchild SA227-AT Expediter crashing after takeoff from Malta killing 5 people on board.

On Oct. 24, a twin-prop Fairchild Metroliner aircraft, in a special configuration required to undertake surveillance missions, crashed shortly after takeoff from Malta International Airport at 07.20AM LT.

The SA227-AT, painted overall grey and carrying civil registration N577MX, is one of two such aircraft (the other being N919CK, that carries a different surveillance suite) is operated by the Luxemburg-based CAE Aviation on behalf of the French government for missions in Africa.

A dashcam captured the last few seconds of the flight: the aircraft can be seen banking (seemingly to the left) before crashing into the ground in the video posted on Facebook (beware, it can be considered graphic content).

The French MoD confirmed the aircraft was involved in a surveillance operation and that three defense ministry officials and two private contractors were killed in the incident.

The aircraft was reportedly involved in tracing routes of illicit trafficking, both of humans and drugs, along the more than 1,200 km of Libyan coastline: indeed, N577MX was part of a fleet of sensor-filled planes involved in intelligence gathering missions in North Africa along with several other special missions aircraft in civil disguise (whose tracks are often exposed by their Mode-S transponders.)

Such para-military, unconventional spyplanes operate from airbases in the Mediterranean Sea (including Malta, that is one of the main operating bases considered the proximity to the area of operations) performing a wide variety of clandestine tasks, sometimes in support of special forces on the ground, including hunting ISIS terrorists.

Image credit: courtesy Ruben Zammit




Watch a German Eurofighter Typhoon use the tailhook during emergency landing at SIAF 2016

A Eurofighter Typhoon performed a tailhook landing during SIAF 2016.

Tailhook landings by land-based aircraft are used in emergency situations to arrest planes experiencing failures that could imply a braking or steering malfunction.

Reportedly, this is what happened during SIAF (Slovak International Air Fest) at Sliac, Slovakia, on Aug. 29, the departures day, when a German Eurofighter Typhoon was forced to perform an emergency landing using the runway’s arresting system due to a hydraulic issue shortly after take-off.

Land-based military airfields operating combat jets use arresting gear systems to slow the aircraft down. There are three basic types of land-based systems: permanent, expeditionary, and overrun gear.

Some drones use a similar system to be recovered by ground crews.

Permanent systems feature arresting cables spanning the width of the runway. Cables are typically 1 to 1.25 inches (2.5 to 3.2 centimeters) in diameter and suspended 1.5 to 3 inches (3.8 to 7.6 centimeters) above the pavement surface by rubber donuts 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) in diameter.

Expeditionary systems are similar to permanent ones and are used for landing aircraft on short or temporary runways. These can be installed and uninstalled in a few hours.

Overrun gear consisting of hook cables and/or elastic nets known as barriers (or Safeland) and are used as a backup system. These are usually installed at the end of the runway and raised if needed to catch the planes before they reach the overrun area.

By the way, emergency landing aside (that you can see in the clip starting at 02:47), the following footage is pretty cool!

H/T Marek Maly for the heads-up



Shocking video shows Greek AH-64D Apache helicopter crashing into the sea

Dramatic footage of an AH-64D Apache helicopter crashing into the sea.

On Sept. 20, at around 09.00AM LT a Greek Army Apache helicopter crashed into the Aegean

The AH-64D helicopter crashed for reasons unknown in the waters of the Strimonikos Gulf near Asprovalta, in northern Greece while taking part in SARISA 2016 exercise.

The footage below shows the helicopter crashing into the sea and capsizing. Fortunately, both crew members escaped safely.

The helicopter is believed to belong to either the 1st or 2nd Battalion of Attack Helicopters from Volos, central Greece.

This the third loss of D-model out of 12 initially procured by the Greek Army.

The incident reminds a famous U.S. Army AH-64 crash in Afghanistan or the Italian Army NH-90 helicopter that crashed into the Bracciano Lake, north of Rome, in June 2008. One of the pilots was killed, the other two crew members were rescued from the water after the helicopter almost disintegrated in the impact.

H/T @robotpig for sending the link to the video.






U.S. Air Force TU-2S crashes in California. Two pilots aboard eject.

A two seater variant of the U-2 Dragon Lady from Beale Air Force Base has just crashed in Sutter County, California.

A TU-2S assigned to the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, from Beale AFB, crashed about 9.05 AM LT near West Butte and Pass roads.

The aircraft, a two seater variant of the famous U-2 Dragon Lady spyplane was involved in a training mission. According to witnesses, both pilots ejected from the aircraft: one died while the other was injured.

The U.S. Air Force is believed to operate just 5 TU-2S jets (including the one lost today).

The Dragon Lady is one of the most difficult plane to land requiring some special landing assistance by chase cars driven by experienced pilots who talk their colleagues aboard the U-2s during (take off or) landing: in fact, since the pilot’s view on a Dragon Lady is obstructed by the airframe, chase cars drivers provide additional information about distance to touchdown and altitude in order to make landings less risky.

The two-seat variant is particularly useful for training since the second cockpit is located well above the front one allowing an unobstructed forward view.


Image credit: U.S. Air Force


From the cockpit: Libyan Air Force MiG-23 performs ultra low level pass followed by aileron roll

Libyan MiG-23 Flogger performs yet another stunt. This time filmed from the cockpit.

Last year we posted some cool shots and a couple video of the two Libyan Air Force MiG-23MLs (6472 based at Benina and 6132 based at al-Watiya) perfoming fast, ultra low-level passes on an airbase in Libya and over a beach near Benghazi.

Both were lost at the beginning of 2016 (one crashed due to a failure, the other shot down).

The one below, reportedly filmed few days ago, is believed to show the only remaining Libyan National Army Air Force MiG-23ML, serial #26453, approaching Benina and performing a flyby over the runway, filmed from the camera attached to the pilot’s helmet.

As if the usual low pass was not enough, the Libyan pilot completes the stunt with a fast aileron roll

Anyway, MiG-23MLs and two MiG-23BNs equipped with IFR (In Flight Refueling) probes (one of those remains in service following the loss of the example #8995 on Jul. 6, 2016) have been used by the LNA AF against Benghazi Islamist militia groups’ bases.

Beware: even though the video claims the aircraft is a Mig-21, the one in the footage is clearly a Mig-23 Flogger (check the shadow of the aircraft on the runway as the aircraft rolls inverted).

H/T @RAeSTimR for the heads-up!