Oops: Turkish A330 Damaged On First International Flight

Filed Under: Turkish

A Turkish Airlines A330 had a runway “excursion” on its first ever international flight, and there’s a lot that makes this interesting.

Late last night TK627 departed from Istanbul to Port Harcourt in Nigeria, and upon landing early this morning it suffered substantial damage (at around 3:30AM local time).

Sources suggest the pilots landed the aircraft next to the runway due to confusion over the runway lights — the pilots seemed to think that the lights along the edge of the runway were in fact the runway center lights.

No one was injured, though the incident is being investigated and the return flight to Istanbul was canceled. Here are some pictures from the scene:

There’s quite a bit beyond the surface that makes this case interesting:

  • This route was just upgraded from a Boeing 737 to an Airbus A330 several days ago, after Nigeria threatened to ban Turkish Airlines if they didn’t start accommodating everyone’s luggage
  • This was the plane’s first ever international flight, as the plane just entered service a couple of days prior (and up until that point operates domestic flights)
  • This was a former WOW Air A330, and specifically the A330 that used to have the registration code TF-GAY (yes, that was intentional); Turkish Airlines registered the plane as TC-LOL
  • I don’t think the “LOL” registration is in response to the original GAY registration, but rather that’s just what Turkish was at when it came to registering planes

Fortunately no one was hurt, and it sucks that this happened to a plane they just took delivery of.

Hopefully an investigation can determine exactly what happened. It is worth noting that the flight had already been delayed, so the flight landed very late at night (meaning that crew fatigue is more likely to be an issue).

This isn’t Turkish’s first major runway excursion with an A330. In 2015 a Turkish A330 suffered serious damage upon landing in Kathmandu, Nepal.

  1. I’m reminded of the incident at SFO a few years back when a plane almost landed on the taxiway next to the runway and could have landed on top of planes waiting to take off. Scary.

  2. Working in Airport Operations, this has all the signs pointing to one or two things: 1. The pilots were unfamiliar with the airport and failed to do their homework aka checking to make sure the airport did or did not have runway centerline lights. 2. The Country of Nigeria doesn’t have AFD’s (Airport Facility Directory), or something similar, like we have here in the United States which would allow the pilots to comply with #1. In that document it will specify if runways do or do not have centerline lighting. We have had this happen at the airport I work at a handful of times.

  3. Typical incident for Turkish Airlines. They have something like this 1-2 twice every year.
    Safety culture at this airline and in the whole country is unfortunately not up to European and American standards. Just search for Turkish Airlines on avherald.com and you will find that this airline is significantly over-represented.

  4. Smiling, because I remember one of my early cross-country trips as a student pilot landing at Merrill Field in Anchorage. Ever so careful to land in the middle of the runway and made a nice landing. However, the tower called and said, “Do you realize you just landed between the runway and the taxiway?” Yep, perfect landing on gravel!! To make matters more embarrassing, I walked across the runway to Peggy’s Airport Cafe to get pie. On the way back, I was intercepted by a truck with a flashing yellow light and was informed that it was an offense with a fine to walk across an active runway and that the tower had seen me do it twice. They let me go after I my contrite apology. Started engine for take-off but the radio was not making contact with tower so I had to power down, get out of the plane, walk over to use the telephone at the base of the tower to call the folks upstairs and ask them to give me a green light for take-off. I’m sure they were laughing very hard and probably made their day! No damage to aircraft, only a crushed ego.

  5. Ground all A330!!!! They are unsafe!!! They should never ever ever fly again! The CEO of Airbus needs to be hanged!!! Only a idiot would build a aircraft that can’t go off road!!!

  6. Turkish Airlines has too many older pilots who are former jet fighter pilots, who think they are above everyone when it comes to maintaining their pilot education. The young pilots at Turkish are good pilots. But way too many of the old guys are military veteran trash.

  7. @Chucky , that was Air Canada, an airline with a bunch of recent incidents, and with a cost cutting safety culture.

  8. @John
    Now it’s the airframer’s fault that pilot error executed a potentially catastrophic manoeuvre.

    You have to be joking, right?

    I mean, this isn’t exactly a B-737-800 MAX MCAS incident, right? Now, there indeed, might be said to be a ‘flying coffin’ – well, it has been for 346 poor souls to this point in time.

  9. You have to wonder if, as a brand new sector for TK’s A330 fleet, either of the pilots was familiar with Port Harcourt approaches. Assuming they weren’t, what sort of briefing/simulator training do they get?

  10. @RovinMoses

    Thanks for that great tale! It’s always great to hear that the rest of us aren’t sky kings either. I, in turn, cut an aircraft off on it’s short approach when turning left base on my solo. The guy in the tower said nothing to me until I (happily) landed, and then had my instructor call him. From what they saw, the vertical distance between us was something like 30 feet, and the guy in the red biplane had to change his underwear several times that day, heheheh. (I apologize that shitty maneuver if you happen to read this, red baron guy, I never saw you…) A week later I forgot to check in into KMLB class charlie, and lined myself nicely up in the traffic pattern before i realized the impending doom of having to sort that mistake out with the notoriously militant female air traffic controller there. She was livid, screaming borderline obscenities when i turned into the frequency, and subsequently flat out refused to let me fly out of there by myself, which meant I had to suffer the absolute humiliation of having my instructor pick me up, and fly me out in the passenger seat. Well, great lessons learned during student time! 😀 😀 😀 —–> Always check in in due diligence, always peep to the right before turning that last left turn!

  11. @Kitsilano

    Apparently John has a characteristic republican reasoning on cause and effect, I’d love to hear what twisted logic made him believe that Airbuses are “flying coffins”. Maybe it’s the chief engineer John Hamilton from Boeing, still tipsy after the New Years party, or perhaps Muilenburg himself trolling the internet, now he doesn’t have a job anymore?

  12. Pleased to see another positive Airbus story.

    No injury to anyone onboard despite being poorly handled on landing and taken where it isn’t meant to go.

    If only all air companies could say the same.

  13. Never, ever fly Turkish. As much as you may like the mezze, it’s not worth the risk you are unwittingly subjecting yourself to.

  14. Not sure what’s worse in this comments section: The anti-Airbus trolling, or the suckers who keep feeding em.

    Other than there not being any injury to passengers in this incident, the best part by far is the registration code change on this aircraft.

    I pray that the next owner of this frame is Virgin.

  15. The term “serious damage” when applied to the Katmandu accident may underrate the reality that the aircraft was damaged beyond economical repair. The hull remains beside the runway.
    It is also worth noting that both accidents involved crews who were new to the airport. The Captain at Katmandu was on her first flight to the airport and given the flights to Port Harcourt had just commenced on the A330 the crews would also be “new” to the port.

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