May 30, 2012 (JUBA) - A chartered aircraft carrying South Sudan’s Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, Betty Achan Ogwaro, was forced to return to Juba airport on Thursday, juts moments after the plane left the capital.

The plane, which was heading to Aweil in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State carrying 11 passengers, belongs to Flex Air Charters is reported to have developed a problem on its right wing about 20 minutes after takeoff.

“As the plane started gaining altitude, it developed a problem on its right wing forcing it to lose balance. The pilot, who appeared very calm, managed to control the situation,” Betty Achan Ogwaro told Sudan Tribune by phone.

The minister, together with other senior ministry officials, had been invited by the state governor, Paul Malong Awan Anei, to visit a rice scheme funded by the German Agency for International Development (GiZ) and the European Union (EU).

She attributed the incident to a “mechanical fault” on the aircraft, although an airline official quickly downplayed this.

“What I know is that the aircraft which left for Aweil this morning developed a problem with one of the wings. I don’t think it was a mechanical fault,” Khamis Pasqual, a flight captain with Kenyan-owned Flex Air Charters said when contacted this morning.

Pasqual said the same plane, which he flew from Bentiu, the Unity State capital, to Juba on Tuesday “was in very good condition”.

Feeder Airlines plane after the crash landing at Wau Airport, South Sudan, 29 March 2012 (Photo: Morris Ukel)

In April a Feeder Airlines commercial flight crashed at Wau airstrip, Western Bahr el Ghazal State, no casualties were reported.



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