TAP Air Portugal A320neo Hits Motorcycle, Kills Two

TAP Air Portugal A320neo Hits Motorcycle, Kills Two

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A puzzling tragedy happened at an airport in Guinea on Friday night, leading to two deaths…

Two dead in TAP A320neo incident at Conakry Airport

This incident happened on Friday, September 2, 2022, and involves TAP Air Portugal flight TP1492 from Lisbon, Portugal (LIS), to Conakry, Guinea (CKY). The roughly 2,000-mile flight was operated by a TAP Air Portugal Airbus A320neo, and was scheduled to depart at 7:10PM and arrive at 10:45PM.

The flight was uneventful until landing. Shortly after 11:30PM local time (the flight was delayed), the plane touched down at Ahmed Sékou Touré International Airport, where it collided with a motorcycle that was on the runway. The motorcycle ended up being dragged by the plane, and part of it got stuck in the engine cowling. The plane was badly damaged, while the motorcycle was damaged to the point that it was unrecognizable.

The motorcycle had two people on it, and tragically both died. There are photos of the damage of the plane — I won’t embed them as they’re pretty graphic, but you can find them in this link (you can see blood on the engines, and more).

TAP Air Portugal has expressed its condolences to the two people who died, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Guinea has opened an investigation into the incident.

The TAP A320neo is still in Guinea, and I imagine it will be there for quite some time, as the plane presumably needs a new engine, and more. The plane involved in the incident has the registration code CS-TVI, and it’s a pretty new plane that was just delivered to the airline in March 2021.

How could an incident like this happen?!

Airports are generally tightly secured areas, especially around runways. How could an incident like this happen? It’s reported that the driver of the motorcycle was a “security guard, employee of a company in charge of securing the airport fence.”

So this wasn’t a case of someone breaking into the airport and then acting recklessly — instead this motorcycle had at least one person who was on duty and working at the airport at the time. One still has to wonder how exactly you could be struck by an airplane. Planes make lots of noise and have lights, so it’s hard to envision how this could be an accident (which isn’t to say that it wasn’t an accident, but…).

I’m curious what comes of this investigation. It’s hard to imagine the pilots had any fault in this, and for that matter a spokesperson for TAP Air Portugal states that “all safety procedures were complied with.” Should air traffic controllers have had knowledge of the motorcycle? That remains to be seen…

Bottom line

An unusual incident happened at Conakry Airport on Friday night, as a TAP Air Portugal A320neo hit a motorcycle while landing. The motorcycle ended up being dragged, killing two people, and causing bad damage to the plane.

What a tragic situation. I still don’t really get how something like this could happen, so I’m curious to see what an investigation reveals.

What do you make of this incident at Conakry Airport?

(Featured image courtesy of Anna Zvereva)

Conversations (11)
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  1. DCharlie Guest

    Let's continue to generalize the behavior of a culturally diverse continent on the basis of singular incidents.

    Motorcycles run down by planes: Africa
    Adults shooting defenseless children or idiot presidents or maybe obese people or angry morons on airlines (just can't choose one): North America
    Genocides and war crimes: Europe
    Communism and noodles: Asia
    Curry and no understanding of queue: South Asia
    Cocaine: South America
    ...Australasia isn't special enough...

    Let's continue to generalize the behavior of a culturally diverse continent on the basis of singular incidents.

    Motorcycles run down by planes: Africa
    Adults shooting defenseless children or idiot presidents or maybe obese people or angry morons on airlines (just can't choose one): North America
    Genocides and war crimes: Europe
    Communism and noodles: Asia
    Curry and no understanding of queue: South Asia
    Cocaine: South America
    ...Australasia isn't special enough to make the list... although barbecues and roos?
    Killer penguins: Antarctica

  2. mr. obvious Guest

    How could an incident like this happen?!

    Its Africa...

  3. Tim Dunn Diamond

    It is precisely because the motorcyle was involved in some sort of security function at the airport that the motorcycle probably did not "break into" the airport.
    Whether he was doing a security sweep or was going to or finished his shift and was cutting through the airport to get home is unknown.
    Nearly all western airports require that ground vehicles that use taxiways or runways have flashing lights and also be in contact w/ air traffic control.
    Tragic indeed.

  4. Sean M. Guest

    Conakry airport has historically not had a perimeter fence (until the last 20 years or so) and the runway has traditionally been used as a shortcut from downtown to the areas on the southeast of the airport. Even after the fence was built, it has been fairly common to pay one of the security guards to give you a ride across to the other side. That seems to have been what happened here.

    There was...

    Conakry airport has historically not had a perimeter fence (until the last 20 years or so) and the runway has traditionally been used as a shortcut from downtown to the areas on the southeast of the airport. Even after the fence was built, it has been fairly common to pay one of the security guards to give you a ride across to the other side. That seems to have been what happened here.

    There was an identical situation in Lubumbashi last year where a Congo Airways Dash-8 struck another motorcycle trying to cut across the runway while they were landing.

    There are other airports in the region with similar conditions and situations, so hopefully these two accidents have been a bit of a wake-up call.

    1. Nelson Member

      Fully agree with you, Sean! But I guess it will not be a "wake-up call." It's just called Africa.

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      @Nelson - That's a rather defeatist attitude to take. I've been involved with African aviation for the past two decades and the biggest change I have seen has been in the safety culture. Africa has gone from being an outright unsafe place to fly in back in the early 2000s to somewhere with a better than global average safety record today. It does not change overnight though. It is a process and it needs commitment...

      @Nelson - That's a rather defeatist attitude to take. I've been involved with African aviation for the past two decades and the biggest change I have seen has been in the safety culture. Africa has gone from being an outright unsafe place to fly in back in the early 2000s to somewhere with a better than global average safety record today. It does not change overnight though. It is a process and it needs commitment from the top to drive it. I promise you nobody is ever gonna try to race an Airbus across the runway in Conakry again as a result of this accident though. Sometimes learning comes the hard way.

    3. Eskimo Guest

      @Sean M. : Sometimes learning comes the hard way.
      2nd Amendment : Hold my beer.

      Roe v. Wade has left the conversation.

    4. Nelson Member

      @Sean, I partly agree with you but AFAIK those kind of "situations" only happen on that continent. Please feel free to tell me if nowadays that happens in other continents.

  5. Daniel from Finland Guest

    This is a sort of "only in Africa" incident. My thoughts are with the cockpit crew of this flight – absolutely nothing they could have done differently in the pitch black African night, yet they are probably feeling terrible after two people have lost their lives.

    Conakry is one of the saddest capitals in the world, and in Africa. I find it easy to belive that basically anyone would have easy access to the runway,...

    This is a sort of "only in Africa" incident. My thoughts are with the cockpit crew of this flight – absolutely nothing they could have done differently in the pitch black African night, yet they are probably feeling terrible after two people have lost their lives.

    Conakry is one of the saddest capitals in the world, and in Africa. I find it easy to belive that basically anyone would have easy access to the runway, and it is probably one of the few places in this country where you can drive really fast on your motorbike...

    1. Bagoly Guest

      For airports, perhaps "only in Africa".
      For level crossings, Poland is bad enough.
      I give a trigger warning for this link, but it's published by the state-owned railway company to discourage other drivers from being so utterly stupid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozjZggE_Nyc

    2. 305 Guest

      This happens almost daily in South Florida with the Brightline. A crossing takes 30 seconds max, yet drivers try and avoid the gates and cross when they shouldn’t.

      Zero sympathy, heck, they should speed the trains up. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Sean M. Guest

Conakry airport has historically not had a perimeter fence (until the last 20 years or so) and the runway has traditionally been used as a shortcut from downtown to the areas on the southeast of the airport. Even after the fence was built, it has been fairly common to pay one of the security guards to give you a ride across to the other side. That seems to have been what happened here. There was an identical situation in Lubumbashi last year where a Congo Airways Dash-8 struck another motorcycle trying to cut across the runway while they were landing. There are other airports in the region with similar conditions and situations, so hopefully these two accidents have been a bit of a wake-up call.

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Sean M. Diamond

@Nelson - That's a rather defeatist attitude to take. I've been involved with African aviation for the past two decades and the biggest change I have seen has been in the safety culture. Africa has gone from being an outright unsafe place to fly in back in the early 2000s to somewhere with a better than global average safety record today. It does not change overnight though. It is a process and it needs commitment from the top to drive it. I promise you nobody is ever gonna try to race an Airbus across the runway in Conakry again as a result of this accident though. Sometimes learning comes the hard way.

4
Daniel from Finland Guest

This is a sort of "only in Africa" incident. My thoughts are with the cockpit crew of this flight – absolutely nothing they could have done differently in the pitch black African night, yet they are probably feeling terrible after two people have lost their lives. Conakry is one of the saddest capitals in the world, and in Africa. I find it easy to belive that basically anyone would have easy access to the runway, and it is probably one of the few places in this country where you can drive really fast on your motorbike...

3
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