Further details, including eyewitness accounts and images showing aircraft damage, have emerged following the Tibet Airlines Airbus A319 runway excursion at China’s Chongqing Jiangbei International airport.
The aircraft’s entire left-side CFM International CFM56 is shown completedly ripped away from the wing, and the aircraft’s landing gear has collapsed. The forward part of the left-side fuselage is severly charred – social media footage had shown the left wing on fire as passengers escaped.
In addition, the A319’s fuselage is cracked aft of the wing. The forward fuselage near the nosewheel is also stoved in.
One video shows dozens of passengers exiting from the main left-side door as a blaze builds up under the aircraft’s port wing.
Slides were deployed from the left-side emergency exit over the wing, as well as from the left-rear door. One image shows that the left-side over-wing emergency exit was opened, but apparently left in place. The left-side main door is also open, but it appears as if the slide was not deployed.
The A319 (B-6425/MSN5157) was due to operate flight TV9833 to Nyingchi on the morning of 12 May when it aborted its take-off and veered off the runway before bursting into flames.
Tibet Airlines says all 113 passengers and nine crew were evacuated safely, with close to 40 suffering minor injuries and needing medical attention. Investigations, led by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, are ongoing.
Early images of the accident showed the aircraft’s rear right-hand door opened with the slide deployed, but the forward right-hand door and over-wing emergency exit appeared closed.
Latest video shared on Douyin, presumably by someone onboard #TV9833, shows passengers were first evacuating from L1 slide before fire erupted near the left wing and burning the front left side of the plane. pic.twitter.com/M4hUPvuy74— FATIII Aviation (@FATIIIAviation) May 12, 2022
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, with 28 examples in its fleet. It also operates six A320s and four A330s.
An eyewitness account – reported by local media – from a passenger surnamed Zhao suggests there were two “explosions” that occurred before the runway excursion.
Zhao, who claims to be seated in the second row of the aircraft, says he was evacuated via the front left-hand emergency exit, but adds that the exit could not be used shortly after as the flames had “burnt the emergency slide”. Passengers were then evacuated with the rear exits, he told local media.
FlightGlobal has been unable to independently verify the account.
The incident is the first aircraft accident for Tibet Airlines, which began operations in 2010.
It also comes less than three months after the fatal crash of a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 in southern China, which prompted Chinese regulators to impose a sector-wide safety probe.