Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation (flyCAA) Airbus A320-200 experienced a mid-air emergency on January 29, 2023.
The aircraft, registration 9S-ABM, was en route from Mbuji Mayi to Kinshasa N’Djili when most of the left-hand elevator detached from the aircraft during takeoff.
Despite the malfunction, the pilot elected to continue the flight, making only right-hand turns to minimize stress on the damaged structure. The aircraft climbed to FL300 and performed a low pass at Kinshasa for assessment before landing safely on runway 24 about 90 minutes after departure, according to Aviation Herald.
There were no reports of collision or abnormal contact during the flight, and the separated part of the elevator was recovered from the Mbuji Mayi aerodrome. The cause of the structural failure is believed to be fatigue.
The detachment of the elevator, while concerning, highlights the training and quick thinking of the flight crew who were able to safely land the aircraft. The incident is currently under investigation to determine the exact cause and to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The Airbus A320 involved in the mid-air emergency on January 29, 2023, was delivered to Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation (flyCAA) in July 2021. This 13.8-year-old aircraft was previously operated by Indian ultra-low-cost carrier GoAir, having been delivered in May 2009. The A320 is powered by two CFM International CFM56 engines.
FlyCAA is a Congolese airline based in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was established in 1991 and began operations in December 1992, with the aim of improving air connectivity within Africa and offering affordable travel options.
In 2013, Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation merged with FlyCongo to form FlyCAA. Today, the airline operates a fleet of 11 aircraft, including four ATR 72s, two Fokker F50s, three Airbus A320s, and two A330s, serving various destinations within Africa.