Images circulating on social media indicate that the Air China Airbus A330-300 badly damaged during a ground fire at Beijing Capital airport has been moved to a remote stand and de-identified.
The aircraft's crew were initially alerted to the fire at 16:48 on 27 August, almost 15min after passengers started boarding for the CA183 service to Tokyo Haneda.
Several Chinese media outlets are citing a preliminary transmission from the Civil Aviation Administration of China's northern regional division detailing initial findings from the inquiry.
It reportedly states that 167 passengers were due to fly on the aircraft – parked at stand 530 – but that, after 147 had boarded, the crew heard an "abnormal noise" beneath the cabin floor in the vicinity of the L2 exit.
White smoke became visible and the cockpit crew was informed, while the pilots were also alerted to an automatic alarm concerning smoke in the forward cargo section.
The crew activated the cargo hold fire extinguisher and transmitted a distress call, requesting firefighting services and ordering an evacuation of the twinjet which was completed in 60s. The crew left the aircraft at 16:51 after all passengers had disembarked, the CAAC is quoted as stating.
Substantial internal and external damage resulted from the fire, with the cockpit, forward cabin and galley, and forward upper fuselage particularly badly affected.
Although the CAAC has indicated that the cargo manifest shows 3,387kg of freight in the forward hold including pumps, plastic furniture, and other goods, but there is no immediate suggestion of lithium batteries or dangerous items.