Investigators in Kyrgyzstan are probing an accident in which a Tupolev Tu-154 lost part of its wing after colliding with a US Air Force Boeing KC-135 tanker during take-off from Bishkek, writes Tom Zaitsev.

Despite the collision, the Tu-154, operated by Kyrgyzstan Airlines, managed to become airborne and returned to land at the airport during the incident on 26 September.

It had been bound for Moscow with 52 passengers and nine crew on board. During the take-off roll the Tu-154 struck the KC-135’s wing as the tanker was exiting the runway after landing.

“The Tupolev had a large piece of its wing, up to 2.5m [8.2ft]-long, cut away,” says airport security unit chief Dzhumgal Kulcharov. “Despite this, it took off and, after making one circle, managed to land safely.” The KC-135 lost a section of its left wing and suffered damage to its tail and engines after catching fire following the collision.

US military personnel, who use Bishkek’s Manas international airport as a support base for operations in Afghanistan, extinguished the fire without resorting to airport ground services.

Source: Flight International