Pilots have extracted an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300 from the small Tanzanian airport of Arusha, two days after it made an unscheduled landing on its short runway.
It has been flown to Kilimanjaro, says a spokesman for the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority, its original destination before the mishap which resulted in the jet's overrunning and becoming temporarily stranded.
The 767 had been operating flight ET815 from Addis Ababa on 18 December and had been intending to land at Kilimanjaro at 12:55.
Air traffic control communications indicate that the crew established radio contact with Kilimanjaro control tower at 12:29, says the Tanzanian CAA spokesman, and was told to report having the airport in sight.
He says that a light aircraft was stuck on the runway, designated 09/27, but that this should not have affected the ability of the jet to land because there was 3,200m available. The Ethiopian crew had been told of the situation, he adds.
“The space was a bit smaller,” he says. “But two or three other similar aircraft had landed there.”
After the crew reported sighting the airport the flight was cleared to continue on a visual approach to runway 27.
It was cleared to land after the crew contacted air traffic control while flying the left base leg. But the tower subsequently lost contact with the aircraft, and did not see it arrive at Kilimanjaro.
Kilimanjaro air traffic control was then contacted by a controller at the smaller Arusha airport, about 50km to the west, that a 767 had landed there. Arusha’s runway, like Kilimanjaro’s, is aligned east-west. The aircraft landed at 12:47.
Tanzania’s CAA gives Arusha’s runway length as 1,640m, adding that the 767 requires almost 1,800m at maximum landing weight. The aircraft came to a halt entirely off the end of the runway, turned to the left.
Investigators are looking into the circumstances of the incident. The crew of the aircraft (ET-AQW) did not declare an emergency.
Ethiopian Airlines is claiming that a "miscommunication" between tower controllers and the pilots resulted in the Arusha landing. But it stresses that the 767 had adequate fuel to divert to an approved alternate airport.
The carrier says the jet was undamaged. The Tanzanian CAA spokesman says a team at Arusha worked to lighten the Pratt & Whitney PW4000-powered aircraft to ease its departure, removing unnecessary weight and offloading excess fuel.
Ethiopian’s flight, which had 213 passengers and crew, had been scheduled to depart Kilimanjaro and continue onward to Mombasa. Ethiopian says there was a long delay before passengers could disembark, and images from the scene indicate that the escape slides were activated.