Trespasser causes cargo fatality

IN West Papua (Indonesia) the pilot of a Susi Air Cessna 208B Grand Caravan cargo aircraft took evasive action to avoid a pedestrian on the runway and crashed into the mountainside, killing his co-pilot.

The 23 November accident near Sugapa Airport killed co-pilot Albert Citores Gallego from Spain. Pilot Jessie Becker, a New Zealand national, survived and is in critical condition.

Susi Air spokesperson Capain Androyogi said the freighter, which carried food cargo and petrol from Nabire, was in good condition and the pilots were among the most experienced in the company. There was a person passing the runway at Sugapa Airport when the aircraft attempted to land.

“The pilot decided to fly back up, but the area was surrounded by mountains and cliffs, making it very difficult to do,” Androyogi commented.

Becker had been deployed to Papua earlier this year. Becker had also flown with Susi Air in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan.

“Both were alive when we evacuated them. Albert died on the way to the hospital,” National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) spokesperson Gagah Prakoso said, adding that the agency had evacuated the aircraft, found dozens of miles from the Supaga airport.

“It takes a very experienced pilot to handle the difficult terrain in Papua. However, we cannot determine the exact cause of the accident until further investigation,” director general for Air Transport Herry Bhakti said.

The crash in the Bintang Mountains was the third accident involving Susi Air Cessna 208B Grand Caravan this year – and the second deadly one. On 9 September, one crashed in the mountainous Yahukimo district on its way to Kenyem from Wamena, killing its two foreign pilots. On the same day another Cessna 208B slid off the runway at Kupang’s El Tari airport, although there were no fatalities.

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