Colombian investigators are probing an incident in which an Avianca Airbus A319 arrived at Bogota trailing a large quantity of entangled ribbon-like debris from its wings, stabiliser and fin.
The airline says flight AV29 from Orlando to Bogota on 31 December was “hit by a hot-air balloon” during its landing at Bogota’s El Dorado airport.
It had touched down at 20:09, the carrier states, and was towed at 20:59 following an inspection by firefighting personnel who found no immediate problems with the aircraft.
“Passengers who had connections to other destinations were able to [meet them] without any inconvenience,” the airline adds.
🚨#ÚLTIMAHORA La irresponsabilidad de unos desadaptados estuvo a punto de causar una tragedia. Hace momentos un Airbus A320 (N557AV) de Avianca impactó un globo pirotécnico cuando aproximaba a Bogotá procedente de Orlando, obligándole a aterrizar de emergencia. pic.twitter.com/cELiXagAUO— Webinfomil.com (@Webinfomil) January 1, 2021
Precise circumstances of the incident have yet to be clarified by investigators. The aircraft, which had conducted its approach to runway 13L, had already landed when the incident occurred, the airline indicates.
Video footage of the aircraft (N557AV) circulating on social media shows the debris hanging from its right and left wings, as well as the inlets of its CFM International CFM56 engines.
N557AV is a nine-year old airframe having been delivered new to Avianca in early 2012.
Colombian air transport regulator Aerocivil, without referencing the incident, issued a statement on 31 December reminding those participating in end-of-year celebrations that launching balloons or using fireworks near airports “affects the safety of air operations”.
There is no immediate evidence of a specific pyrotechnic element to the balloon involved in the A319 event.