Two airlines – Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic – have run into solid obstacles recently while a third, Cathay Pacific, stopped so suddenly one passenger said: “He put the anchors on, dude!”
Fortunately, all those events were on the ground and no-one was hurt.
The first was a Qatar Airways aircraft in Miami, which suffered “substantial” damage after slamming into a runway’s lighting system during take-off.
The B777-300 was able to continue its flight to Doha on 15 September 2015 “without incident”, said a US government report, despite damage to the underside of the aircraft.
The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) said the aircraft hit the Approach Lighting System – a series of lighted masts located 60 meters beyond the end of the runway.
The masts are just six metres high, but on this occasion the plane’s underbelly was so low it hit them.
The second was a sudden stop and aborted take-off – twice. Cathay Pacific flight CX198 was attempting to take off from Auckland Airport for Hong Kong on Saturday afternoon, but aborted take-off at the last minute.
“I didn’t know planes could stop that quickly,” a passenger told the New Zealand Herald.
“The plane was fair hauling and about to lift when he put the anchors on, dude.”
After the flight was aborted, passengers were returned to the terminal with a meal voucher, and waited five hours before reboarding.
The second flight was rescheduled – but again it aborted take-off.
Cathay Pacific apologised to passengers, saying engine issues had affected the A340.
The third was a Virgin Atlantic flight at JFK International Airport in New York on Saturday. As it was being pushed back from the gate, the plane’s wing became stuck in the fence (known as a blast fence) at the end of the runway.
Once it was freed and the OK given, the plane went on its way.
Written by Peter Needham