Serbian investigators are reportedly probing an extraordinary accident in which Embraer 195 became airborne despite being badly damaged on take-off when it collided with navigation aid structures.

State-owned television station RTS quotes Air Serbia as saying that the aircraft was operating flight JU324 from Belgrade to Dusseldorf on 18 February, but returned to Belgrade for “technical reasons”.

But images circulating on social media, purportedly showing the aircraft involved, reveal substantial damage to the left-hand fuselage and wing root as well as the left horizontal stabiliser.

Bosnian public broadcaster RTRS says the aircraft was operated by Greek carrier Marathon Airlines, on behalf of Air Serbia.

It reports that the aircraft struck lighting infrastructure at the end of the runway.

Marathon E195 Air Serbia-c-Marathon Airlines

Source: Marathon Airlines

Greece’s Marathon operates E195 for Air Serbia

Specialist outlet EX-YU Aviation News reports that passengers heard a loud bang during take-off. It states that 106 passengers were on board, but none suffered injuries.

NOTAMs from Belgrade airport state that the ILS for runway 12R was downgraded from Category III to Category I on 18 February, although the airport’s operator has yet to confirm whether this is the result of damage sustained.

Unconfirmed data suggests the aircraft involved was OY-GDC and that it departed runway 30L, which is 3,500m in length according to the Serbia aeronautical information publication. It appears to have flown for 45min, in the vicinity of the airport, before returning to land.

Serbia’s civil aviation directorate has yet to give further details of the event.

Cirium fleets data lists OY-GDC as being owned by Danish Air Transport, leased to Marathon and subleased to Air Serbia. It was originally delivered to the UK’s Flybe in 2008.