Air Niugini 737 Crashes Into Ocean After Failed Landing At Chuuk Airport

Updated Last: 3:16AM UTC

Breaking news from Micronesia this morning as Air Niugini Flight 73 has overshot the runway and crashed into the ocean. The Boeing 737-800 plane overshot it’s the runway whilst landing at 9:30AM local time, ending up 160 meters out into the ocean.

Air Niugini 737-800 sinking in the Lagoon near Chuuk International Airport in Weno.

All 36 passengers and crew members are safe, according to local media, citing Jimmy Emilio, Chuuk airport manager.

The location of Chuuk in the Pacific Ocean.

The PNG Accident Investigation Commission is preparing a team to get to the site of the accident off the island of Weno.

Chuuk International Airport

Air Niugini Flight 73 was coming in from Pohnpei in Micronesia and was scheduled to continue its journey through to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea.

Air Niugini Flight 73 Route

A short history of Air Niugini

Air Niugini is the national carrier for Papua New Guinea, they currently have a fleet of 20 jets that serve 20 destinations nationally and 10 internationally.

It was originally founded by a partnership between Qantas (Australians flag carrier), Ansett (A now-defunct Australian carrier) and the PNG government in the 1970s.

The airline, however, bought out its private shares and became fully government owned. During their period of change over, their pilot crew moved away from highly trained Australian pilots to local talent with less experience, especially in the challenging PNG environment.

That being said, whilst they have had several crashes, they have never had a single casualty or death.

plane crash
A cargo plane crash on 19th of October 2013. There were no casualties.

Their current fleet is as follows:

Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Boeing 737-700 1 16 106 122
Boeing 737-800 2 20 138 158
Boeing 737 MAX 8 4 TBA 192 Delivery in 2020[18]
Boeing 767-300ER 2 28 160 188
Boeing 787-8 1 TBA
Fokker 70 8 1 80 80 Second Hand Deliveries
Fokker 100 7 8 93 101
Total 20
Plane crash
The 737-800 in Air Niugini livery.

Air Niugini currently has two 737-800’s, believed to have been on loan. The planes themselves are both 13 years old and had previously been owned by Air India and Jet Airways.

The plane involved in today’s incident had previously been in an accident in May when taxing at Port Moresby in PNG, it was clipped by a cargo plane.

“The plane crashed and in around five minutes the rescuers were there, they were ordinary people, because there are plenty of boats around the shore. The officials were about 10 minutes.” – Nearby Hotel Onlooker to the Daily Telegraph.

It has also been reported that the US coast guard ship that has been operating in nearby waters is now in en-route to help with the rescue and salvage operation.

A United flight that was following close behind from Guam has been diverted to Pohnpei.

It’s also being reported that a team from New Zealand is on the way to help recover the plane.

As of 10:17AM local time (3.17AM UTC), it’s being reported that the plane itself has started to fill with water and submerge. It looks like that now that the passengers are safe and secure, that authorities will begin a salvage operation.

plane crash
The plane is starting to submerge and fall to the seafloor next to the airport.

It’s unknown at this time if Chuuk has the facilities for an operation, or if there are boats within the local area that can perform the dredging task.

This is a developing story.