It hasn't even been a month since 2017 started, yet we've had three serious major aviation-related incidents already (thankfully with no fatalities). On January 9, Aeromexico flight 668 lined up with Runway 28L at San Francisco (SFO) instead of Runway 28R, of which they were given clearance just a few minutes earlier. Just a day later, an Eurolot Bombardier Dash 8-400 made an emergency landing on its nose after its nose landing gear failed.
On January 13, another high-profile, yet nonfatal accident occurred at Trabzon Airport (TZX) in Turkey. A Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 (registration: TC-CPF) was attempting to land as flight PC8622 from Ankara when it somehow veered off the end of the runway. As you might already know, TZX airport is located right on top of a small cliff that runs directly into a body of water, so when the 737 slid off runway 11, it crashed down the cliff until it was brought to a complete stop by mud that prevented the aircraft from sliding into the Black Sea. Here's a compilation of some aerial footage of the incident, provided by Ihlas News Agency:
Miraculously, all 162 passengers and 6 crew members survived the crash. Even more amazingly, only three people were taken to the hospital for injuries. Despite this fact, the aircraft did not fare as well. Upon sliding off the embankment, the aircraft's starboard engine tumbled into the Black Sea. The aircraft seems to have suffered a fair amount of damage during this incident, but remains in one piece.
Investigators are currently trying to determine what happened during last night's incident. For starters, the weather does not have appeared to play a role in this incident, as most runway excursions occur during severe weather with heavy winds. However, aviation journalist and frequent traveler JT Genter notes that at Trabzon airport, the wind speed was just 1 knot - that's only 1.5 miles per hour. Despite this, visibility conditions were not ideal. The Aviation Safety Network notes that it had been raining at Trabzon just prior to the incident, and according to the airport's METAR data, the visibility was likely around 4,000 feet. That's not ideal, but still workable. Runway 11 at TZX is also equipped with ILS (Instrument Landing System), allowing aircraft to land even in terrible conditions.
Image courtesy of JACDEC.
The next likely cause of the crash is a possible mechanical problem with the aircraft. This incident appears to have occurred at the end of the landing phase, when the aircraft is preparing to make a U-turn in order to head towards the passenger terminal. That means that the aircraft was likely not traveling faster than an average taxiing speed at the time of the incident, which could also explain why the aircraft did not plunge straight into the ocean. At this time however, it is too early to speculate about the real reason of the crash, and we may have to wait until Turkish investigators compile a report of what went wrong during the accident.
Cover image courtesy of AIRLIVE.NET.