GOL 737’s Tail Damaged By Stairs Collision In São Paulo

**Update: 26/02/21 @ 13:23 UTC – Statement made by GOL. Included in article**

On Wednesday, February 24th, a GOL Boeing 737-800 at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos airport had to undergo some repairs to its bottom-rear fuselage after a rolling set of stairs hit the aircraft. The stairs, affixed on a set of four wheels, were blown into the aircraft by strong winds during a storm. While no one was reported injured in the incident, the aircraft will need to undergo repairs for a gash that appears to be at least 50cm (20in) deep.

GOL 737-800
The ground team left the ladder unsecured, without its brakes activated. Photo: Marcus Soares via Wikimedia Commons 

Update: Statement from GOL

“GOL confirms that the tail of an aircraft was damaged by a ladder this Wednesday (2/24), at Guarulhos airport, during the rain that fell. The aircraft was stopped in a remote area, with no Customers or crew on board.”

The airline spokesperson recommended that we contact the company responsible for the equipment and said that said company “does not perform services for the [GOL] on the spot.”

Incident details

On Wednesday, February 24th, unsecured movable stairs were blown into the bottom-rear section of a GOL 737-800’s fuselage during a strong storm. The winds, combined with the equipment’s weight and its ‘thin and pointy’ corner, managed to puncture the aircraft’s metal skin, getting about half a meter deep into the aircraft.

The incident took place at São Paulo International Airport in Guarulhos, where some unidentified ground crew took photos and posted them to the internet, as shared by Brazilian aviation website Aeroflap and shared to Twitter by another channel:

Photos posted show that the stairs belonged to third-party ground services company Swissport. Aeroflap confirmed that the ground team had left the ladder without applying its brakes.

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Aircraft details

The Boeing 737-800 involved is reportedly registered as PR-GGD. This is a nearly 13-year-old aircraft that was first delivered to GOL back in April 2008. The jet has been with GOL for the majority of the time.

However, data from Planespotters.net indicates that the aircraft was leased out to Brazilian budget airline Webjet in 2012, from May to November. The aircraft’s current single-class-configuration sees it accommodating 186 economy passengers.

RadarBox.com data shows that PR-GGD had touched down at 06:46 on the morning of February 24th, coming from Campo Grande, Brazil. While sources report that the aircraft had to undergo maintenance and repairs due to the damage, flight tracking data shows that the aircraft returned to service the very next day.

The jet took off for Zumbi dos Palmares Airport in Maceió on February 25th at 13:40 local time, completing three flights in total that day.

GOL 737-800
GOL is a Brazilian airline operating an all-Boeing 737 fleet. The carrier has 127 aircraft, which are a mix of 737-700s, -800s, and MAX 8s. Photo: Rafael Luiz Canossa via Flickr 

Who is Swissport?

The owner of the stairs was a ground-services company by the name of Swissport. With the company operating at 298 airports in 47 countries on six continents, there’s a good chance you’ll have seen some of their equipment around the airport apron.

Swissport’s website notes that it has the ability to perform the following ramp services:

  • Baggage Services
  • De-icing
  • Fueling
  • Moving of Aircraft
  • Aircraft Cleaning

As a third-party company, independent of the airport, Swissport can be hired by airlines to handle various aspects of airport operations, rather than employing their own staff.

What do you think of this incident? Will Swissport be on the hook for the cost of repairs? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Simple Flying reached out to Swissport for comment. At the time of publication, no response was received.