A Boeing MD-83, chartered by Air Algerie from Spanish company Swiftair, appears to have crashed in Mali with 110 passengers and six crew members on board. AH5017 was operating from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers Thursday when contact was lost 50 minutes into the flight.
In a statement released via its Twitter feed, Air Algerie said AH5017 appears to have crashed in the Tilemsi region of Mali, around 70 km from Gao. However, in an update posted at 1430Z, Swiftair said the location of the aircraft is still unknown. It took off from Ouagadougou at 0117Z and was expected to land in Algiers at 0510Z. The aircraft was carrying 110 passengers, two Spanish pilots and four Spanish cabin crew.
[UPDATED] On Thursday evening, Malian state television said the wreckage had been found south of the Malian town of Gao close to the border with Burkina Faso. According to media reports, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was due to visit the site of the crash on Friday.
“The aircraft involved is an MD-83 with serial number MSN53190, registration EC-LTV, manufactured Aug. 20, 1996 and equipped with two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 engines,” Swiftair said in the 1430Z briefing note.
Burkina Faso’s transport minister is quoted by local news outlets as saying weather conditions were poor, prompting the crew to request a new routing before contact was lost. Swiftair said the aircraft is equipped with Cat III, BRNAV, FMS/GPS, TCAS II and RVSM.
Air Algerie said 50 of the passengers were French. There were also 24 on board from Burkina Faso, eight from Lebanon, six from Algeria, five Canadians, four Germans, two from Luxembourg, plus individuals from Mali, Nigeria, Belgium, Cameroon, Egypt, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine.
Madrid-based Swiftair was created in 1986 and operates passenger, charter and cargo flights in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It employs over 400 staff and operates a fleet of over 30 aircraft, including Metroliners, Embraer E-120s, ATR 42/72s, Boeing 727s and 737s, and MD-83s.