Reuters TINGSHU WANG
The Minister of Transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sharubin Okinedi Senja, announced that two Ethiopian and Portuguese planes survived an imminent air disaster, after avoiding a last-minute collision in the country’s sky.
Okinedi Singa said in a statement that “very disturbing information in my possession indicates that there is a high probability of a disaster in our country’s airspace.”
“In this context, two Ethiopian Airlines and Portuguese Airlines avoided, at the last minute, by a very small difference, the collision at the intersection of two vertical airways in Lubumbashi, due to a lack of communication between the crews and Lubumbashi airport,” he added.
“The Ethiopian plane was on a flight between Addis Ababa and Windhoek, and the Portuguese plane was on a flight between Maputo and Lisbon,” he said in the letter dated May 20, addressed to the director of the Congolese Airlines.
He continued, “The two routes converge over Lumumbashi. The two planes were in the convergence area with a difference of less than ten minutes, and at this stage the Air Routes Administration had to determine on an ongoing basis the location and speed by means of navigation aids.”
“Two relay antennas in Kamena and Maleme were defective, while listening conditions in Lubumbashi were very poor,” he added.
He expressed concern about “the seriousness of the facts and the risks of a catastrophe,” calling for “a circumstantial report on the accident, and a detailed report on the status of the entire airspace of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
The Congolese authorities stated that the “unsafe air situation” revealed by the accident may threaten the future of airlines flying over the country.
A second internal message from the Air Tracks Administration on May 21 revealed that six stations belonging to this authority are “out of service” around the country.