Air Niugini ATR failed to rotate before overrun

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Initial inquiries into the Air Niugini ATR 42-300 overrun accident in Papua New Guinea indicate that the crew aborted the take-off after the aircraft did not rotate on command.

French investigation authority BEA says the aircraft had been departing runway 25 at Madang, destined for Tabubil, on 19 October.

It was transporting 3.5t of cigarettes which had been loaded at Madang airport, says BEA, citing preliminary information from Papua New Guinea authorities.

“When the captain rotated during the take-off run, the nose-wheel did not lift off the ground,” the BEA states.

“The captain reported the flight controls felt very heavy in pitch.”

Madang’s runway is relatively short, at around 1,570m (5,150ft). As the captain aborted take-off, the ATR overran the end of the runway and passed over a 3m bank, continuing for another 100m.

The right wing struck the airport’s perimeter fence, skewing the aircraft’s course by about 45° to the right, and causing the right-hand engine and outer wing to catch fire.

BEA says the aircraft came to a halt in a creek with most of the forward fuselage immersed in water. The crew of three, the only occupants of the freighter, escaped through a cockpit roof hatch.

Both flight recorders have been recovered and are in good condition but the aircraft (P2-PXY) has been seriously damaged. The outboard section of the right wing has burned completely and its engine fell off into the water.