Air Niugini 737 Undershoots Runway, Crashes Into Lagoon, All Passengers & Crew Safe

Filed Under: Aviation, Misc.

A few hours ago an Air Niugini 737 on approach to Chuuk, Micronesia, appears to have undershot the runway, resulting in a water evacuation of the aircraft.

The pictures, and rescue efforts, look incredible, and all 47 passengers and crew are accounted for:

The situation is still developing, but Air Niugini, which is the national airline of Papua New Guinea, has issued the following statement regarding flight PX73 on their social media accounts:

Air Niugini advises that its Boeing 737-800 series aircraft, P2-PXE landed short of the runway whilst landing at Chuuk Island of the Federated States of Micronesia this morning.

Air Niugini can confirm that all on board were able to safely evacuate the aircraft. The airline is making all efforts to ensure the safety and immediate needs of our passengers and crew.

Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

Air Niugini is one of only a few airlines servicing Chuuk, with service to Pohnpei and Port Moresby, and  — more recently — Tokyo Narita. They have ~20 aircraft in their fleet, serving almost 40 destinations, and are partners with Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Chuuk is popular with divers, and United flies to the airport as well, as part of their Island Hopper route (which, if you haven’t read Cynthia Drescher’s experience on the Island Hopper, it’s a piece of writing well worth your time).

There will be many more details to come, I’m sure, but it’s wonderful to hear that (at least for now), everyone was able to evacuate safely.

Featured image courtesy Air Niugini

  1. It’s good to hear that all pax survived the crash unscathed and are safe.

    As the Chuuk lagoon is a divers paradise guess some passengers who were heading there started their diving adventure right from the plane itself 😉

  2. @Tiffany — It’s good to see you blogging a little more, recently. Any plans for another trip with Lucky? (Hopefully without illness this time.)

  3. The airline’s statement says ” landed short of the runway”, in this case a euphemism for crashed into the water. It appears that everyone has survived, some injuries but apparently not life threatening.

  4. Reports don’t seem to realize that “landing” derives from the noun “land”, so how can you “land” in water?

  5. @Max perhaps it’s like taking an “elevator” from the 6th floor to the 1st floor? How can you “elevate” down?

  6. @Max: That’s why Spanish actually distinguishes between “aterrizaje” and “amaraje”. Although I wonder if it’s still technically amaraje when you touch down in a river or lake… 🙂

  7. To folks who’re complaining about the use of “landing,” the word land was also used as a synonym for “alight” around the time airplanes became a thing. Also, it’s derived from the Old English hland, which can mean either land or urine.

  8. That looks well “short of the runway,” by several hundred yards if the pictures are accurate

    Glad everyone is OK

  9. @ Malc — Thanks! Pinch-hitting this week, but I really enjoy it. Hopefully we’ll eventually get back to where this can be a more consistent thing.

    And no plans at present — would love to, but we’re at a business point where it’s even more difficult for us to be on planes or in odd timezones together than previously, so it’s complicated.

  10. @ Max @ Juraj @ Drew — Hah, I’m glad you all noticed that! I spent like 15 minutes last night trying to thread the needle of English with word choice on this, to the great annoyance of my husband. “The plane is in the sea, what is that called? Is it a ‘crash’ if the fuselage is intact?” etc.

  11. Air Niugini only flies this route once a week and from what I understand, they change to B737 fairly recently, so it might be lack of experience. We’ll see. I saw this exact plane 4 weeks ago at Chuuk. I guess, I have historic pictures now. It would be interesting to read how they going to lift the aircraft from the sea.

    United Island Hopper skipped Chuuk today, due to the crash.

  12. @Stuart, came here to say this. Though it seems that ditching implies a sense of emergency or involuntary touchdown on water, so a seaplane would never “ditch” unless it had crashed. Splashdown (another term that could capture this) seems to be confined to space capsules that are slowed down by parachutes and vertically come into contact with a large body of water, like the Apollo capsules.

    @Juraj, indeed, there’s different words for landing and water-landing in Spanish too. The predominant form in Spain is “amerizaje”, not “amaraje”. And you’re right, wonder if you could still legitimately call it “amerizaje” (literally “sea-landing”) if the plane ends up on a lake – though the Chuuk lagoon is no lake, but sea surrounded by a reef barrier.

  13. Glad everyone survived and are safe!

    On another note, a lot of experts said a 737 wouldn’t be able to hold together in a water landing like Sully’s 320 landing.

    I’m sure the people at Boein are secretly proud that there plane acted so well in a water landing

  14. @Juraj – same in German, we call it “landen / Landung” if it’s on land and “wassern / Wasserung” if it’s in water…

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