Midair scare forces Silverstone Air to crash-land


A Silverstone Air plane. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A passenger plane operated by local airline Silverstone Air was Monday morning forced to make an emergency landing at Eldoret International Airport after one of its tyres dropped off mid-air a few moments after taking off from Lodwar.

The Dash 8 – 300 aircraft which was heading to Nairobi landed safely in Eldoret, in a move which saw passengers who were on the plane booked into another aircraft to Nairobi.

The bombardier Dash 8-300, registration number 5YBWG, had four passengers and five crew members on board.

The airline in a statement sent to newsrooms confirmed the incident, but failed to shed more light as to how the wheel dropped off mid-air from the aircraft.

“We would like to confirm that earlier today our flight Dash 8 - 300 from Lodwar to Nairobi experienced an incident during takeoff and as a result, lost the number 3 wheel assembly,” said the airline in a statement Monday.

“The captain of the flight decided to divert to Eldoret International Airport in the interests of the continued safety of the passengers and the crew. This was a precautionary action and the aircraft landed safely,” said the airline.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe also confirmed the incident, which left tens of passengers inside the plane terrified.

He noted that there is need for the airline to improve on its safety standards to restore consumer confidence among its customs.

He however refused to confirm whether there are plans ground the operations of the airline which has been operating in Kenya since 2017 for security breach.

The incident is taking place barely a month after another passenger aircraft operated by the airline skidded off the runway at Wilson Airport, Nairobi.

Witnesses said the craft lost its way during take-off to the coastal town of Mombasa.

Images circulated online from the scene showed that the Fokker 50 aircraft plunged into a thicket, hitting some trees and breaking part of its wing, before being grounded, tilted to one side.

A passenger who had boarded the plane told the Nation that they were yet to hit the skies when the pilot realised "some issues", without giving details.