UM Airlines Flight 4230
The aircraft involved in the crash, seen here at Antalya Airport in 2001
|Date||26 May 2003|
|Aircraft type||Yakovlev Yak-42|
|Flight origin||Manas International Airport Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan|
|Stopover||Trabzon Airport, Trabzon, Turkey|
|Destination||Zaragoza Airport, Zaragoza, Spain|
UM Airlines Flight 4230 was a chartered international passenger flight which was flying from Manas International Airport, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Zaragoza Airport, Spain. The Yakovlev Yak-42D, operated by Ukrainian UM Airlines, tried to land at Trabzon Airport, Turkey to refuel, but because of dense fog, the crew lost visual and slammed into a mountain near Maçka, Trabzon.
All 13 crew and 62 passengers were killed in the crash. It remains the third-worst crash in Turkish aviation history. The aircraft was carrying Spanish peacekeeping troops back from Afghanistan.
The UM Airlines Yakovlev Yak-42 was a chartered aircraft being used to transport Spanish troops after a four-month peacekeeping tour of Afghanistan. The final destination was Zaragoza Airport but the aircraft attempted to stopover at Trabzon Airport in Turkey, in order to refuel. The aircraft crashed into the side of a mountain near the town of Maçka, 15 miles (24 km) from Trabzon, on its third attempt to land in dense fog. The pilot had stated that he could not see the runway; visibility was less than 10 metres (33 ft).
All crew and passengers were killed in the impact. The troops on board comprised 41 members of the army and 21 members of the air force. The aircraft was also carrying ammunition; explosions after the crash distributed the wreckage over a large area.
The aircraft had been chartered from the Ukrainian UM Airlines by the Spanish defence ministry to return some of the 120 Spanish troops working as International Security Assistance Force peacekeepers in Afghanistan. It was the third crash of a Ukrainian-operated aircraft within six months; an Ilyushin Il-76 had crashed on 9 May, killing around 14 people, and the previous December saw an Antonov An-140 crash in Iran with 44 fatalities.
Spanish defence minister Federico Trillo stated "the meteorological conditions and dense fog caused the drama". NATO Secretary-General George Robertson stated "This is an appalling tragedy, given that these soldiers were serving the interest of peace in a difficult mission in Afghanistan". In 2004, the Spanish Socialist Party government sacked three generals after it was discovered that 22 of the victims' bodies had been misidentified and returned to the wrong families.
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