All 113 passengers and 9 crew evacuated in the flight that veered off the runway and caught fire at Chongqing Airport
Published: May 12, 2022 11:25 AM Updated: May 12, 2022 11:23 AM
Video: CGTN

The 113 passengers and 9 crew members on board of the flight from Chongqing to Nyingchi, southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, were evacuated safely, after the crew member found an abnormality and the flight veered off the runway as the takeoff abruptly halted in Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport on Thursday.

The Tibet Airlines issued an official notice later that said all passengers and crew were evacuated safely. According to the CAAC Southwest Regional Administration official website 36 passengers were hospitalized with minor injuries and the aircraft was damaged by fire.

Video clips taken by netizens at the scene show a fire burning on the left side of the Airplane A319 from Tibet Airlines. The flight's crew and passengers were evacuated from the scene, and inflatable slides were released from the fuselage. Several fire engines arrived at the scene and began rescue efforts. Video shows an open fire has already been extinguished at the scene.

The crew said the plane was experiencing issues during takeoff,  and terminated ascent following normal procedures. The engine caught fire due to scraping against the ground after the plane veered off the runway, the CAAC Southwest Regional Administration said on its website.

One of the airport's runways remains closed, with the other two runways operating normally, according to the bureau. 

We confirm there was a runway excursion in Chongqing, China, involving a Tibet Airlines A319 aircraft during a rejected takeoff, Airbus China told the Global Times on Tuesday.

We are assisting the airline and the French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses which is in direct contact with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the company said.

Wang Yanan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Thursday that the deviation from the runway may be a result of the pilot detecting a major technical or hidden danger while taking off, and therefore abandoning ascent, otherwise it may have been difficult for the plane to land safely back at the airport.

The cause of the fire is mainly due to the plane using maximum braking energy after aborting takeoff, making the engine scrape against the ground and catching fire, he added. 

There is also a saying that terrain at the end of the runway is not ideal. If the aircraft kept taxiing along the centerline of the runway, the aircraft may encounter even greater danger, so it may also be that the pilot took necessary preventive measures, according to Wang. 

Data from information provider Flymaster showed that the A319 aircraft had been in service for 9.5 years. As of 10 am, the Jiangbei airport in Chongqing had canceled 558 planes, or a 57 percent of cancellation rate, with many flights diverted to nearby airports such as Shuangliu airport in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Global Times