All 11 occupants were killed when a Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander operated by Papua New Guinea domestic carrier Airlink crashed on 3 February after apparently breaking up in flight.
The aircraft was en route from Hoskins to Kandrian, when it crashed into a plantation some 32km (20 miles) south-west of Hoskins. Airlink managing director Colin Bubner says the position of the wreckage supports eyewitness reports which describe the wings separating in flight.
Reports of weather conditions at the time of the crash are contradictory. While some local press reports cite "heavy rain and clouds", Bubner says that another Airlink aircraft inbound to Hoskins at the same time reported "fair" weather with light rain.
Bubner adds that his fleet is inspected regularly for a known tendency for a weakening of the undercarriage/wing clamp attachments caused by rough airstrips. Britten-Norman says the weakening, where it occurs, is the result of heavy landings or rough strips and authorised repair consists of part replacement. Bubner says the aircraft had completed "extensive refurbishment" in November.
The incident was the second Islander crash in the region in recent weeks. Last month, an Uzu Air aircraft crashed while attempting a late go-around at Coconut Island in the Torres Straits, between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The investigation has revealed no evidence of mechanical or structural faults.
Source: Flight International