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A Tibet Airlines Airbus A320. (Photo: Airbus)

Tibet Airlines A319 Skids Off Runway

On May 12, a Tibet Airlines Airbus A319 performing the Chinese domestic flight TV9833 from Chongqing to Linzhi skidded off the runway after aborting its take-off.

The aircraft was severely damaged with engines and landing gears ripped from its fuselage. All 122 passengers and crews evacuated before flames consumed the lift side of the aircraft, though there were 36 people lightly injured during the evacuation.

At the Scene

As passengers recalled after the accident, the plane was vibrating severely and never made off the ground”. Based on the image of the site, the aircraft skid to the lift of the runway and passed a gutter way and a taxiway, and stopped on the grass. The crew quickly executed an evacuation, and all passengers left the aircraft before the fire crews started to put out the fire.

The aircraft performing flight TV9833 — registered with fail number B-6425 — was a nine-year-old Airbus A319, that joined the airline in 2011. Tibet Airlines operates 38 Airbus aircraft, 27 of which are Airbus A319s, a model that is fitted for high altitude operations. The carrier mainly operates at high-altitude airports within Tibet. The airline is an Air China subsidiary, with the nation’s flag carrier owing 40% of Tibet Airlines.

Based on the image from the accident site, the aircraft lost its landing gears and engines, possibly at the location where it passed a gutter way. The rear of the aircraft is almost detached from its fuselage, and the front left side was severely burned by fire. Experts commented that the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.

Investigation Underway

The cause of the accident is yet to be determined. Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and Airbus have all released statements that an investigation will begin immediately.

The accident caused Chongqing Airport to be closed for about an hour, though the airport operation resumed to normal afterward.

This accident came merely 52 days after the deadly crash of China Eastern flight MU5735. The anxiety of the public will further hold back the slowly recovering Chinese aviation market.

The Airline

Tibet Airlines was founded in 2011, and it is an Air China subsidiary with 40% of the company owned by the flag carrier of China. The airline is headquartered in Lhasa, China, the capital city of Tibet. The destinations of Tibet Airlines are mostly high altitude airports located in Tibetan Plateau, and all the top five highest airports in the world are located in this area. The airline flies mostly the routes that connect those high altitude airports with the rest of China, especially the two of the biggest cities in western China, Chengdu and Chongqing.

Despite the harsh operating condition, the airline managed a perfect safety record from the beginning. This accident is the first time Tibet Airlines has had an accident that caused a loss of property. Luckily, no lives have been taken in the accident.

Author

  • Lei is from Inner Mongolia, China, and now lives in Guangzhou. He grew up in an aviation family, where his passion began. During his time at Penn State University, he studied Industrial Engineering specializing in operations research, and he graduated with an honor’s thesis on airport gate assignment optimization. Now, he is a Purchasing Manager with Procter & Gamble. In his free time, he enjoys flying, reading, and wandering around the city.

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