A Transport Allianz Transall C-160 cargo aircraft operated by Indonesian carrier Manunggal Air Service was gutted by fire yesterday soon after landing at an airport in west Papua.
The two pilots, a flight engineer and three loadmasters escaped safely from the aircraft which caught fire at 08:36 yesterday at Wamena airport in west Papua moments after completing a flight from the west Papuan city of Jayapura, Manunggal Air Service operations manager Tjonhar Azya says from the airline’s offices in Jakarta.
He says the chartered cargo flight and was carrying diesel and jet fuel.
The aircraft had touched down at Wamena and was taxiing when the control tower informed the pilots that “smoke and fire could be seen coming from the left side landing gear”.
“They asked the pilot to taxi to the apron…and they taxied to an area …and stopped the aircraft and set down everything.”
When the pilots got out of the aircraft they could see “the landing gear was in smoke and fire and they tried to put it out with fire extinguishers but the fire kept increasing and then the fire brigade came to try and put out the fire but the fuselage kept burning”.
Television footage taken at the airport shows the aircraft engulfed in flames, thick black smoke billowing, and at one point, a large fireball shoots out of the aircraft and into the sky.
Pictures taken after the fire was extinguished shows the aircraft’s main fuselage was completely destroyed and all that remains is the aircraft’s nose, rear empennage, wings and engines.
The aircraft that was destroyed, local registration PK-VTQ, was one of four C-160s in Manunggal’s fleet. Tjonhar says of the remaining three, two are in service and one is parked permanently at Jakarta airport.
He says the airline plans to keep its other C-160s and adds it is a good aircraft because “it is very easy to handle” and on the Jayapura-Wamena route can carry 10t of cargo.
The C-160 was built by a consortium of French and German aircraft manufacturers which developed the aircraft in the mid-1960s as a military transport.
Today the aircraft is still in service with the French, German and Turkish air forces.