am not saying that the previous 2 crashes out of MWZ have been with overloaded a/c, but, from first hand experience, I can tell you what it is like taking off from MWZ in an overloaded IL
The routing we were doing was MWZ - KRT - CAI - BTS
Prior to landing at MWZ, we had flown into an airfield in the DRC that was admittedly too short for the IL
-76. We had both right and left MLG's catch fire and 3 blown tires. Luckily, on the previous flight, we had delivered to the airport in question a new fire truck.
Whilst loading in MWZ, there was an abundance of activity at the rear of the a/c. There would have been 40 africans wearing white wellingtons all loading the boxes in by hand. Nobody was counting the amount of cargo being loaded.
The paperwork was a little innaccurate, with the shipper arguing how many boxes were being loaded.
The airline in question was paid a certain amount per KG
, and the crew was (by their own admission) paid a bonus for carrying past a certain weight. I estmate that we were at approx 53t of load on board when we took off.
We used as much runway as possible. (for those of you that have been into MWZ, you will know that you have next to no room to turm around at the end of the runway, and you run the risk of ending up in the dirt.) When we accelerated (hardly) down the runway, I had the feeling that we had a bungee cord attached to the rear of the aircraft. I was standing behind the captain and F/O watching the takeoff, and the captain and the F/O were glancing at each other in anticipation.
We did finally lift off and spent the next couple of minutes(seemed like 30) climbing at about 1 ft per second. I went down to the navigators pit and could see the reflection of the moon in the water no more than 50 feet below me.
I went back upstairs to the cockpit, and there was still silence in what was normally a fairly vibrant atmosphere.
After what seemed like an eternity, the airspeed seemed to increase, and the mood in the cockpit changed somewhat. I went out the back to the engineers, who were now resting, stretched out on top of the boxes of fish. After a while, one of them started to prepare the meals for the flight crew and themselves, whilst another pillaged a box of fish and stated packing them with salt into 2 litre coke bottles for later use.
My opinion is that russian crew (whilst being aviation professionals) are pressured into taking risks by the commercial side of our business. Of course the captain has the final say on payloads / flying in dubious conditions etc., but the lure of bonus of a few hundred or a thousand USD's can be too good to refuse to a captain that makes a salary similar what I used to pushing shopping trolleys. If the IL
-76's were overloaded, I hope that the commercial guy is unable to sleep for a long - long - long time....
If the captain refuses to fly, he is overlooked for further flying.
Once I was on a russian aircraft for a duty period of 42 hours, and had the captain not flown it, another captain would have been found that would fly it. The captain that refused would have difficulty finding himself 1st choice for the next flight.
MWZ - BTS
This was after the previous evening at the Tilapia hotel, when we got absolutley smashed on vodka that the crew had brought to
the hotel themselves.
At KRT, there was another IL
-76 that had taken off just from MWZ after us. - They said that they were carrying 50+ tons, and were flying KRT - BTS
direct with no stop in CAI. - They had already unloaded when we got to BTS
. This same IL
-76 went down in East Timor a year or 2 back.