ANALYSIS: Thai A330 could become carrier’s first hull loss in 12 years

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The runway excursion of a Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport could result in the first hull loss suffered by the flag carrier in the last 12 years.

Shortly after images appeared on social media sites showing the ill-fated aircraft (HS-TEF) resting with its nose on the ground in the grass beside the runway, new images appeared showing maintenance crews obscuring the aircraft's livery and registration details with black paint.

The aircraft was operating flight TG679 on the Guangzhou-Bangkok route and the accident occurred at 23:20 local time, said a company spokeswoman. The 288 passengers and 14 crew evacuated via the aircraft's slides, which resulted in 13 minor injuries.

Images suggest the front landing gear of the aircraft collapsed, and that there was damage to the aircraft's Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. Thai has not said if it will restore the aircraft (manufacturer's serial number 066) to service or part it out, but the aircraft's build date of 1995 likely means it will not fly again.

If Thai chooses to the part-out option, Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets database indicates that HS-TEF will become the carrier's first hull loss since March 2001, when a Boeing 737-400 operated by the carrier was destroyed by an explosion and fire prior to boarding at Don Mueang airport.

The aircraft was at the gate awaiting the boarding of passengers with the explosion occurred, killing one of five crew members aboard the aircraft. Initially, the Thai government attributed the explosion to sabotage. However, it was later found to have been caused by an explosion in the aircraft centre wing tank.

In December 1998, Thai lost an Airbus A310 after the aircraft crashed while attempting to land at Surat Thani. The disaster killed 91 of 132 passengers and 11 of 14 crew.

Ascend data shows that the aircraft was destroyed by impact and post-impact fire when it crashed in a flooded area around 700-800m (0.43-0.5 miles) to the south of the airport control tower. The accident happened during the third attempt to land. The aircraft had been making a non-precision (VOR/DME) approach to runway 22 and appeared to have crashed shortly after commencing a go-around.

Data from Ascend also indicates that Thai has suffered 10 incidents of major severity and 10 of minor severity in the last 20 years. Although these have not resulted in any crew or passenger fatalities or injuries, they have resulted in damage worth $167 million.