Cameroon authorities held an Air France Airbus A340 for several days last week after a landing incident at Douala during a rainstorm prompted an inspection of the aircraft. The airline suggests the delay in clearance was influenced by a French ban on Cameroon Airlines during the European political debate about blacklisting last year.
The incident happened on 19 February in heavy rain with thunderstorms in the vicinity of the airport. Air France says the A340-300 (F-GLZO) was “just about to land” at Douala in “very bad weather conditions” when the captain decided to go around, but the main wheels touched down before the aircraft climbed away, prompting the captain to seek a technical inspection. The aircraft landed safely on its second attempt.
Although Air France’s technical crew cleared the aircraft for service, the airline awaited a similar approval from the Cameroon civil aviation authority, but this was delayed despite the fact that the aircraft had sustained no serious damage and should have returned to service “immediately”, says the airline. No reason for the hold-up has been given and the Cameroon CAA could not be reached for comment. Tensions have been high between Cameroon and France since French authorities, during moves last year to draw up a European air transport “blacklist”, banned flag-carrier Cameroon Airlines from French airspace for nearly two months.
The incident comes as the Transportation Safety Board of Canada continues to investigate last August’s Air France A340 overun in rainstorms at Toronto.
DAVID LEARMOUNT / LONDON