Chinese investigators have pointed to cockpit distraction as a likely cause for the runway excursion involving a Tibet Airlines Airbus A319 two years ago. 

In its final report into the 2022 accident, investigators from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) found that an unknown falling object in the flight deck had “distracted” one of the pilots who “accidentally” applied the left rudder, overriding the flying pilot’s controls, leading the aircraft to veer left off the runway.  

Tibet Airlines A319 crash_social media

Source: Chinese social media

The A319 (B-6425/MSN5157) was due to operate flight TV9833 from Chongqing to Nyingchi on the morning of 12 May when the accident – Tibet Airlines’ first since it was founded in 2010 – happened. 

The aircraft was carrying seven crew members and 109 passengers. There were three cockpit crew on the flight: apart from one pilot flying and one monitoring, there was a third member observing. 

The accident left the aircraft’s forward left fuselage severely charred, and the left CFM56 engine, main landing gear and other components ripped away. Six passengers and crew members required medical attention. 

According to the report, the aircraft was taking off from runway 03 and was close to a V1 speed of 145kts when the runway excursion occurred.

Based on information from flight recorders, as well as interviews, the CAAC found that the pilot responsible felt something hit his left leg, which “deviated his attention, leading to a loss of situational awareness”. 

Chinese investigators also found the crew “failed to make effective remedy” after discovering the aircraft was deviating left on the runway. The flight crew aborted take-off, and the effect of maximum brake force and inertia caused it to veer off the runway at 127kts. 

The A319’s main landing gear hit a trench cover at the side runway 03 before the aircraft hit open ditch 120m away, and burst into flames. 

The CAAC flagged several lapses in its report, including lack of compliance in the placement of items in the cockpit, the observing pilot’s lack of action, as well as a failure to execute a take-off abort command. 

Cirium fleets data indicates that B-6425 was delivered to Tibet Airlines in 2012, and is managed by the carrier. Tibet Airlines is a major operator of the A319, but also operates A320s and A330s.