Polish investigators are investigating a serious incident in which a Boeing 737-800 chartered from Spanish carrier Air Europa descended far below the approach path and destroyed dozens of approach lights while landing at Katowice airport on 30 October.

The aircraft had been chartered by the United Nations and was returning from Lebanon with 114 Polish peacekeeping soldiers, plus a crew of 11, on board. It struck several directional guidance and flashing approach lamps - ranging from a few centimetres to more than 10m (32ft) tall - and suffered extensive damage to its fuselage, wings, flap fairings, lights and the nacelles on its CFM International CFM56 engines.

Fog was in the vicinity at the time. Katowice airport says the aircraft flew "too low" and tore through the lighting structures across a distance of 870m. "In spite of this, the aircraft landed safely," he says. "Passengers heard a noise that accompanied the tearing lamps, but didn't feel anything."

None of the occupants was injured, although the next aircraft due to land, a Wizz Air Airbus A320, had to wait while ground services personnel cleared the runway of debris.

The Air Europa 737-800 (EC-HBM), an eight-year-old twinjet owned by Itochu Airlease, was towed to a parking stand where it is expected to remain for several weeks until it can be repaired.

Investigators at Katowice have been inspecting the damage to the airport's lighting. NOTAMs issued for the airport say that the Category I precision-approach lighting system for Katowice's runway 27 is unserviceable and that a simplified approach lighting system is in effect.

Katowice airport's operator is warning that its reduced navigation and guidance capability means it might be unable to accept certain flights during low-visibility weather conditions over the next three weeks.

Source: Flight International