Made In China Shaanxi Y-8 Aircraft Crashes In India; Was Operated By Myanmar To Ferry Its Soldiers

A Myanmar military aircraft encountered a mishap during its landing at Lengpui Airport in Mizoram, India, on January 23. The incident, occurring at around 10:30 am local time, left at least eight of the 14 individuals on board injured.

The aircraft, identified as a Shaanxi Y-8, had reportedly been dispatched to evacuate Myanmar military personnel who had sought refuge in Mizoram following intense clashes with rebel groups in their home country. 

Lengpui Airport, known for its challenging landing conditions, witnessed the aircraft overshooting the runway, resulting in its fuselage splitting in half upon impact.

Mizoram’s Director General of Police (DGP) Anil Shukla was quoted by ANI as saying, “While landing, the aircraft overshot the runway and went into the bushes. This led to damage to the aircraft. The aircraft was carrying 14 crew members, 8 of them have been injured.”

Operations at the airport have been temporarily suspended in the aftermath of the accident.

The unfortunate incident unfolded just a day after India repatriated 184 Myanmar army personnel who had sought asylum in Mizoram following clashes with an ethnic rebel group on Myanmar’s borders.  

Assam Rifles, the paramilitary force entrusted with border security, counter-insurgency, and law enforcement in Northeast India, disclosed that 276 soldiers from Myanmar entered the region last week. 

These soldiers were transported from Lengpui airport to Sittwe in Rakhine state via Myanmar Air Force planes. The remaining 92 soldiers were scheduled to be repatriated on January 23. 

These soldiers sought assistance from Assam Rifles after entering Mizoram on January 17, having fled their camp, which was overrun and captured by ‘Arakan Army’ fighters.  

As of now, a total of 635 Myanmar soldiers have sought refuge in Mizoram, including the 276 who entered last week. Their camps were overrun and captured by ethnic armed organizations and pro-democratic forces.

Officials report that 359 soldiers have already been repatriated to their home country. Back in November, 104 Myanmar army personnel were transported to the border town of Moreh in Manipur from various locations in Mizoram using Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters, and they were subsequently repatriated. 

Myanmar Air Force Shaanxi Y-8

The aircraft involved in the incident was a Y-8F-200W, an upgraded model of the Shaanxi Y-8 manufactured by the Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation in Hanzhong, Shaanxi province, China.

The Y-8, originally derived from the Antonov An-12 aircraft, stands as one of China’s largest transport aircraft. The plane is a medium-sized transport aircraft with a medium range. 

The Y-8F200W is identified by its elongated 2.2-meter fuselage. It is capable of takeoffs from gravel or snow-covered runways, demonstrating capability at altitudes of up to 3,000 meters above sea level. 

Designed for versatility on unprepared runways, this aircraft is specifically tailored to facilitate the seamless transport of troops and equipment. 

In the early 1990s, Myanmar Air Force acquired four Shaanxi Y-8D aircraft from China. Subsequently, in 2016, the Myanmar Air Force received the two new Shaanxi Y-8F200W tactical transport aircraft from China.

Shaanxi Y-8 - Wikipedia
Shaanxi Y-8 – Wikipedia

However, in 2017, one of these Shaanxi Y-8F200W tactical transport aircraft crashed in the Andaman Sea, claiming the lives of all 122 people on board. 

The ill-fated journey began on June 7, 2017, as a Shaanxi Y-8 aircraft of the Myanmar Air Force took off from Myeik at 13:06 local time, bound for Yangon (06:36 UTC). 

However, it lost communication at 20 nautical miles west of Dawei at an altitude of 18,000 feet. The crew included Lt-Col Nyein Chan as the captain and co-pilots Lt-Col Soe Thu Win and Maj Thant Zin Htay, along with 14 other crew members.

Additionally, 108 military staff members, including 15 children, were passengers, alongside six officers and 29 other military personnel. 

Immediately following the incident, a search and rescue mission was initiated in the Andaman Sea. On June 7, wreckage from the aircraft was located 118 nautical miles (218 km) off Dawei by a Myanmar Navy ship.

The scattered debris indicated a possible in-flight disintegration at high altitudes, exacerbated by challenging weather conditions in the region. 

On June 9, the prospects of finding survivors diminished, and it was officially declared that there were no survivors. Bodies and wreckage were discovered scattered across the Andaman Sea and washed ashore. 

This devastating event became Myanmar’s deadliest aviation accident, surpassing the toll of the 1987 crash involving a Fokker F27 Friendship 500, which claimed 49 lives. 

On June 15, a fishing boat participating in the search efforts discovered the aircraft’s tail off Myinkhwar Aww Bay. The critical components of the investigation, the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, were successfully recovered on June 18. 

The investigative findings indicate that the pilot lost control of the aircraft upon entering dense storm clouds. The wings had accumulated ice, and sudden crosswinds contributed to the plane stalling. 

Following the latest incident involving another Y-8F200W tactical transport aircraft, it appears that Myanmar has lost both its latest Y-8s.