Buenos Aires Tug Catches Fire Preparing To Push Lufthansa 747

A Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 escaped with almost no damage after the tug pushing the aircraft caught fire. The incident occurred on January 2nd at Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The flight was only delayed by one hour and a half.

Lufthansa 747-8
The Lufthansa 747-8 was not damaged when the tug caught fire. Photo: Getty Images

The incident

The aircraft, registered D-ABYP, was about to operate flight LH 511 from Buenos Aires, Argentina, back to Frankfurt, Germany, when the pushback tug caught fire. Video and photos surfaced online showing how close the tug and plane were to the main airport terminal. At this stage, no one appears to have been treated for any injuries.

The incident was brought under control quickly, and the flight took off successfully at 19:34 local time, just an hour and a half later than scheduled. The rest of the flight seems to have gone smoothly, and the plane landed in Frankfurt one hour and twenty minutes behind schedule at 12:32 local time on Sunday 3rd.

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Tug fires

Although this incident doesn’t seem to be very serious and caused more frustration than actual damage, tug fires are not uncommon and can cause injury to people and damage to planes. Lufthansa had a similar incident in 2018 when a tug pushing an A380 caught fire. The plane itself sustained damage to the nose and undercarriage, and ten people were treated for smoke inhalation. The plane was not carrying passengers at the time.

As airlines and airports move away from diesel-powered tow tractors, we should see tug fires become less frequent. Lufthansa’s home airport Frankfurt has taken to using eTugs, which are not only more eco-friendly but should minimize incidents like these.

Lufthansa tug electric
Lufthansa is looking to move away from traditional diesel tugs like this one to electric ones. This will reduce emissions and will hopefully reduce fire risk. Photo: Getty Images

Lufthansa 747-8 fleet

The aircraft involved in the incident over the weekend is one of only a few Lufthansa 747-8s currently in operation. For the past year, the large four-engine 747-8s have mainly been grounded. Lufthansa is still operating its 747s on long-haul routes to China and South America.

However, the airline is also bringing in four of its newer Airbus A350-900s to its Frankfurt base to cover routes normally operated by its 747s and A340s. The changes to its usual schedule will last all winter as demand remains inconsistent. The A350-900 uses less fuel than the 747, meaning Lufthansa can cut fuel costs and CO2 emissions with this simple change.

According to Planespotters.net, Lufthansa has a total of eight 747-8s in service, with 11 currently parked. The aircraft only have an average age of just over seven years, so we will likely see Lufthansa keep them for a while yet. As travel bans lessen, more should come back into service on long-haul routes, particularly to the US.

What do you think of Lufthansa’s 747-8s? Get in touch and let us know in the comments.