A Cathay Pacific B777 has suffered damage to the tip of its wing. The aircraft was being pushed to the gate by a tug when it was backed into a pole. Thankfully no passengers were onboard at the time and no injuries were sustained.
“Cathay Pacific Flight CX292 which was scheduled to depart from Rome at 13.05 local time was involved in a towing incident in which one of its wing tips struck a standing pole”
A spokesman for Cathay Pacific said, “Cathay Pacific Flight CX292 which was scheduled to depart from Rome at 13.05 local time was involved in a towing incident in which one of its wing tips struck a standing pole”. While adding “The incident occurred when the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft was being towed by a truck operated by a local ground handling agent at the airport.”
FlightAware and FlightRadar24 both show that the flight between Rome and Hong Kong was cancelled on Wednesday. The Airline said that all passengers had been accommodated on alternate flights where possible.
Cathay Pacific is the flag carrier of Hong Kong. A founding member of the One World Alliance, the airline was founded in 1946. Cathay Pacific operates flights all over the world with a mixed fleet of both Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft. 69 of these are the B777 aircraft, the type caught in the incident on Wednesday. The company operates both the B777-300 and the B777-300ER.
At around 13:00 a member of ground handling staff was pushing the B777 aircraft to the gate, ready for passengers to board. Whilst completing this manoeuvre, the driver clearly misjudged the clearance available to him.
The pole cut through the wing like a hot knife through butter. This is due to the structure of the wing. With a ribbed structure, the wing is perfect at managing the heavy loads pressed on them in flight. Unfortunately, the wing is not designed to take sudden pressure on the front or the back. While the damage won’t write the plane off, it will be out of action for a while.
Has This Happened Before?
The simple answer is yes. Every now and again we see aircraft sustaining minor damage through collisions. While this usually doesn’t cause much damage, and the only injuries are to worker pride, it is, of course, annoying for airlines.
Los Angeles has an interesting solution to try and avoid such instances. When the A380 is taxiing, it is accompanied by airport vehicles at the wing tips. By adopting this policy, the accompanying vehicles can see if the aircraft is likely to hit anything. Seeing as the A380 has a wingspan of 80m, this certainly helps save a few red faces.