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Airbus A320 Experiences Runway Excursion at Vilnius Airport

An Avion Express A320 veers off the runway with no injuries reported

An Avion Express A320 (Photo: MarcelX42, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

Vilnius Airport was forced to suspend all operations for several hours on Saturday afternoon after an Avion Express Airbus A320 experienced a runway excursion on landing at around 2 p.m. local time.

The Circumstances

Avion Express flight X98242 from Milan Bergamo Airport in Italy to Vilnius International Airport in Lithuania landed on Vilnius’ runway 19. The charter flight, operated by a nine-year-old Airbus A320 registration LY-NVL, was carrying close to 180 passengers onboard along with a crew.

The aircraft veered right off the runway close to its midpoint. Instead of coming to a stop, the pilots were able to bring the machine back onto its track on the runway.  This helped the airport tremendously, as the stuck-in-the-mud airplane could require an entire rescue operation with heavy machinery and an airport closure for many hours. Instead, at 5:36pm local time, planes started taking off from the airport again.

A few flights coming to land in Vilnius before the incident dodged the bullet. AirBaltic flight BT1020 from Gran Canaria managed to land ahead of time, just before the Avion Express landing. One flight, the SAS SK1742 from Copenhagen, got diverted to Palanga Airport, another airport in Lithuania. Later flights suffered minor delays.

AvionExpress_X98242_03FEB24_Flightradar (Source: flightradar24.com)

The Aftermath

The reverse thrusts being still active during the excursion added up to the visual effects. Flying pieces of mud do not go well with the aircraft exterior though and even less so with turbofan engines. The once-white aircraft got covered in debris. Sources close to the airline noted damage to the landing gear and surrounding areas, as well as damage to the underbelly fairing. They also reported both engines ingested quite a bit of mud when the aircraft slid around on the soft ground.

The damage is an important implication for Avion Express and the owner of the plane, Zephyrus Aviation Capital. The airplane just recently changed owners, having served close to eight years with Wizzair. Event of such magnitude might require the plane to undergo serious maintenance in order to be able to fly again. The aircraft will probably undergo a C check, the type of maintenance required every 20-24 months. The real question is whether the plane had already gone through a D check while changing the owners.

Such a job is performed roughly every 8-10 years, and changing the owner was probably the perfect opportunity for that. If this particular unit already went through it, a lot of effort is wasted. The D check maintenance on a plane of the likes of Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 may be worth in the proximity of $1 million.

Filip Kopeć


  • Filip Kopeć

    A passionate aviation enthusiast that started off his career as an aerospace engineer, but found his true calling on the commercial side of the airline business. Now as a finance guy among avgeeks and an avgeek among finance guys, he has experience working in the Revenue Divisions of three airlines. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, but admittedly sometimes is more about the journey than the destination.

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