The Chinese airline industry suffered its second hull loss in as many months on Thursday when a Tibet Airlines Airbus A319 veered off the runway at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport in southwest China and caught fire, forcing an emergency evacuation. None of the 113 passengers and nine crewmembers died in the incident, although Chinese authorities said several suffered injuries during the evacuation.
The accident came some six weeks after the crash of a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 that killed all 132 people on board, prompting the airline to temporarily ground its fleet of the model and central government leaders to order a broad safety review across the Chinese aviation industry. The investigation into that disaster continues.
Bound for Nyingchi in Tibet, the Tibet Airlines A319 had traveled roughly halfway down the runway when the crew aborted the takeoff. Footage on social media shows flames coming from the forward-left section of the aircraft and thick black smoke apparently caused by the fire.
According to Chinese state-controlled media, the crash happened at 8:09 am local time. Operations at the airport have since fully resumed.
Airbus confirmed in a statement the incident involved a “lateral runway excursion” and that the company is in contact with the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA), which supports the investigation led by the Chinese CAAC under ICAO Annex 13 protocols.