The accident is the second small-plane accident in Tanzania in less than a year. The other, you'll recall, involved an Air Zanzibar single-engine plane that crashed and burned on takeoff from a hunting block controlled by Usangu Safaris, killing four German hunting clients. That accident, all evidence indicated, was caused by overloading and the failure of the pilot to abort when trouble developed. This latest accident is much more difficult to analyze. For starters, overloading of the aircraft has been ruled out because the plane had already taken off and flown successfully for close to an hour when it crashed. The burned fuel would have made it significantly lighter than it was on takeoff. As for the pilot, Chris Perreira, his skill and ability were beyond question. The plane he was flying was also in perfect condition. The only questions remaining center on the cloudy conditions that prevailed around the airport. Did they cause Perreira to misjudge his position as he came in to land? Did one or more of his instruments give him bad readings?
At press time, because of the involvement of so many Americans, the National Transportation Safety Board was investigating the crash. If a cause of the accident is turned up, we will report it. In the meantime, we read this as simply a tragic accident that befell a quality charter company. Northern Air, long-time subscribers will remember, is one of the handful of charter companies........(continued)