Serbian prosecutors are seeking information to determine the runway intersection to which air traffic controllers directed an Embraer 195, before the jet collided with structures on take-off.

The E195 was operating a service from Belgrade to Dusseldorf, on behalf of Air Serbia, on 18 February.

It took off from runway 30L but collided with lighting or antenna structures, sustaining serious fuselage damage, before returning to the airport.

Belgrade’s higher public prosecutor’s office states that it has sought assistance from the criminal police directorate to obtain information on the occurrence involving flight JU324. Greek carrier Marathon Airlines was operating the flight under a wet-lease agreement.

The office is specifically trying to ascertain whether the crew received instructions from air traffic control to use intersection D6 or D5 for take-off.

According to the Serbian aeronautical information publication, the D6 intersection to 30L would provide 2,349m of available runway while D5 would only give 1,273m.

The prosecutor’s office says it needs to understand whether the crew acted on instructions, or warnings, as well as other circumstances surrounding the accident.

Marathon E195 Air Serbia-c-Marathon Airlines

Source: Marathon Airlines

Air Serbia was wet-leasing the E195 involved from Marathon Airlines

Preliminary indications, yet to be confirmed by the inquiry, suggest the crew departed from the D5 intersection, and the aircraft became airborne only after overrunning, striking a number of structures before managing to climb away.

A radio communications recording – circulating on social media, but not independently authenticated by FlightGlobal – apparently contains an exchange between Belgrade tower and the E195 crew, using the callsign Air Serbia 86C.

During the exchange the controller asks the crew whether they realise they have entered the runway at intersection D5, to which one of the pilots replies in the affirmative and gives the available take-off distance as 1,273m. The controller then gives the pilot the option to backtrack to intersection D6.

After take-off the crew informs the tower of the need to return, and the tower tells a Boeing 737-800 crew operating another Air Serbia flight to vacate the runway. The E195 then requests a low pass for a visual inspection.

The prosecutor’s office says the police have been asked to determine what took place at the “critical moment” and to “identify possible persons responsible”.

It adds that investigators need to understand whether the safety of the 106 passengers was endangered. The aircraft landed safely, despite being badly damaged, and none of those on board was injured.

Air Serbia has since terminated its wet-lease pact with Marathon Airlines.