Any time I fly an African carrier my friends get worried. While some have good safety records like the ten safest airlines in Africa, others show an abysmal lack of basic care. Such was the case of the ill-fated Filair flight on August 25 that crashed into a house as it approached Bandundu city airport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Twenty people were killed. Authorities claimed the airplane ran out of fuel, but the company said it was a technical problem.
The lone survivor of the crash tells a different tale, Juene Afrique reports. The unnamed survivor says a crocodile slipped out of a sports bag someone had brought as a carry on. The passengers panicked and rushed to the front of the plane, causing a weight imbalance that put the aircraft into a nosedive. The crocodile reportedly survived the crash only to be killed by a machete-wielding local when it emerged from the wreckage.
Whether this is true are not is hard to say. Juene Afrique is a respected news source, but eyewitness testimony can be unreliable, especially when it’s anonymous. The plane was a Soviet-era Let-410 like the one shown here. It only seats 19 passengers so it’s small enough that if everyone ran to one end it would have weight balance issues. Plus the pilot reportedly complained it was in bad condition. Congolese company Filair is one of many airlines banned from flying into the European Union thanks to its poor track record.
Yet if the crocodile tale is true it wouldn’t be one of a kind. An eerily similar incident of a crocodile in a plane happened on an EgyptAir flight last year. Luckily nobody was hurt that time.
[Image courtesy Mottld via Wikimedia Commons. Note that this is not a Filair plane but a Russian carrier]