Meteorological data shows that the TACA Airbus A320 which overran in Honduras on 30 May was attempting to land at Tegucigalpa’s Toncontin Airport in wet weather conditions and a slight tailwind.
Two passengers and the aircraft’s captain – who had accumulated over 11,000 hours’ flight time – were killed, along with at least one person on the ground after the jet came off runway 02.
Toncontin’s runway is relatively short at 1,863m (6,112ft), and the accident has prompted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya to initiate plans to shift flights by larger aircraft to the Soto Cano air base near Comayagua, 55km northwest of Tegucigalpa. Soto Cana, formerly known as Palmerola, has a runway of about 2,900m (9,500ft).
© PA Photos
TACA, which has been forced to divert Tegucigalpa services to San Pedro Sula, says it backs the plan.
“We are more than willing to support the decision of the president of Honduras in the process of empowering the Comayagua airport,” says TACA chief executive Roberto Kriete.
Flight TA390 had arrived from San Salvador at about 09:45 with 124 passengers, six crew and five repositioning cabin crew. Weather data shows haze and light drizzle in the area at the time, with a 4kt wind from 190°, giving a slight tailwind to aircraft landing on runway 02.
NOTAM information for Toncontin Airport issued in early May cautions pilots that the runway might be wet because of the rainy season. Archived air traffic control communications show that controllers cautioned the crew that the runway was damp.
Unconfirmed reports claim the A320 was making a second attempt to land at Toncontin, which requires a procedural approach.
The Airbus suffered extensive damage, particularly to its cockpit and forward fuselage, which separated after the jet struck an embankment and a number of vehicles. More than 50 occupants on the aircraft were taken to hospital.
Airbus says the International Aero Engines V2500-powered aircraft, delivered to TACA from the production line in 2001, had clocked up 21,960 hours and 9,990 flight cycles. The airframer has sent five specialists to Honduras to assist the inquiry.
Investigators have yet to give any preliminary information about the circumstances of the accident or the status of the aircraft during the landing. The fatal overrun comes just under a year since the loss of a TAM A320 at Sao Paulo Congonhas Airport in Brazil.
Toncontin Airport has issued a NOTAM today allowing only aircraft types in the lower approach speed categories to operate there until further notice. Although TACA has redirected services to San Pedro Sula, it says there are ATR-operated shuttle flights connecting San Pedro Sula to Tegucigalpa.
This video shows the aftermath of the aircraft's overrun:
WARNING: This video of still images shows the cockpit after the crash - some people may find some images distressing.
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news