Case studies: Air safety violations and destabilizing arms transfers
Available evidence indicates that air carriers involved in destabilizing arms transfers consistently operate in violation of international air safety regulations. These air carriers belong to an identifiable subset of a wider group of entities which typically operate in violation of the Chicago Convention and other air safety regulations. The following case studies present additional information on air carriers suspected of being involved in destabilizing arms transfers that have also violated international air safety standards.
On 22 November 2007 United Nations experts working for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sanctions committee witnessed large green boxes being unloaded into military trucks guarded by Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) personnel from an Ilyushin 76 (IL-76) aircraft, operated by Azza Air Transport and registered as ST-APS. According to the UN sanction committee report, UN peace-keepers and local informants, those boxes contained weapons, ammunition and military equipment. The DRC sanctions committee report notes that this was an apparent violation of UN security council resolution 1771. The UN sanctions committee for Darfur, Sudan has also noted sanction-busting activity on the part of Azza Air, operating flights in violation of the Darfur arms embargo and has recommended that the company be subject to an aviation ban. In common with a significant number of Sudanese air carriers, Azza Air has a poor safety record with at least one documented crash also involving embargo violations.
Photo source: United Nations, Security Council, Report of the Group of Experts Pursuant to Resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of Congo, S/2008/43, 13 February 2008, p. 17
This aircraft, owned by Doren Air Cargo and operated by Goma Express was carrying 2000kg of minerals when it crashed, killing one person. The United Nations group of experts for the Democratic Republic of Congo have noted that the aircraft was carrying military personnel and that aircraft operated or belonging to these companies do not meet European air safety standards.
Photo source: United Nations, Security Council, Report of the Group of Experts Pursuant to Resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of Congo, S/2007/423, 18 July 2007, p. 27
This Phoenix Aviation Antonov crashed in Iran in March 2006. Phoenix aviation aircraft have been the subject of more than six crashes and emergency landings in the past five years and the company was subject to an individual ban of EU airspace prior to its decertification by the Kyrgyz authorities. Phoenix aircraft were allegedly involved in arms smuggling to Somalia, according to a United Nations sanctions committee. Phoenix have supplied aircraft to an additional eight companies named in United Nations reports.
Photo source: Werner Fischdick
This Antonov 12, registration number UN 11006 belonging to GST Aero registered in Kazakstan was later transferred to a Moldova company, Pecotox Air. Both GST Aero and Pecotox air are named in United Nations arms trafficking-related reports and European Community air safety regulations. It was also operated by Buraq Air Services, a Libyan company named in United Nations sanction committee reports and European Community air safety regulations. Buraq Air no longer operates this aircraft. GST Aero was reported by the EC as decertified in March 2007 and Pecotox Air was decertified in July 2007. However a 3 October 2007 United Nations Security Council report noted that this aircraft, UN 11006 landed in Chad in 2007, delivering arms and ammunition. The UN experts observed the aircraft again in Chad on 25 May 2007, bearing GST Aero markings. According to the United Nations Security Council report, the government of Kazakhstan stated that GST Aero ceased operations on 30 November 2006. The government of Kazakhstan state that the aircraft is now operated by a Russian company, East Wing. However, East Wing appear to be in fact registered in Kazakhstan and are named as the successor company to GST Aero in aero transport databank.
Photo source: Werner Fischdick
The remains of an Ilyushin 76 which crashed close to Khartoum, Sudan on 30 June 2008. This aircraft, which crashed on take-off as the result of an engine fire was repeatedly operated or owned by companies named in arms trafficking-related reports and those listed in European Community air safety regulations. At the time of the crash, the Ilyushin 76 was operated by Ababeel Aviation. A 2008 United Nations Security Council report called for a member states to ban Ababeel Aviation for violations of the UN arms embargo on Darfur, Sudan. Prior to Ababeel, the aircraft had been operated by Tomislav Damnjanovic, named in UN and New York Times reports as involved in arms trafficking. Other operators included Kosmas Air, Aerolift and GST Aero, all of which have been named in UN arms trafficking-related reports and later decertified or banned from entering EU airspace.
Photo source: Needa
This table lists 35 air cargo carriers that have been named in United Nations Security Council or other arms trafficking-related reports which have lost entire aircraft (hull loss) as a result of a crash or other air safety related incident.
Source: Information compiled from Air Safety Network (ASN) air accident database