Ukraine International Boeing 737 Veers Off Runway During Line Up

Yesterday a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 slid off the runway at Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport after encountering ice. According to reports, airport operations were disrupted for 4 hours 20 minutes before normal services resumed.

The incident at Lviv airport
The incident caused significant disruption at Lviv Airport. Photo: Lviv Airport via Facebook

The Aviation Herald reported yesterday on an incident which caused significant disruption at Ukraine’s Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport. On 23 November, at around 07:00 local time, a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 registered UR-PST was taxiing to the runway.

The aircraft was set to perform flight PS-34 from Lviv to Kiev with 157 people on board. As the aircraft was turning off the taxiway and on to runway 13 from which it was due to depart, it skidded right off the tarmac.

The aircraft came to a halt with its nose and right main gear off the tarmac at the junction between the taxiway and the runway. Reports suggest that the aircraft stayed in this position for 4 hours and 20 minutes before it was towed back to the apron. Normal airport operations resumed thereafter.

What caused the incident?

Autumn is quickly making way for winter and temperatures are dropping. Ukraine is certainly more geared up for cold temperatures than most places. The airport reported supercooled rain around the time of the incident and said that a patch of ice was responsible for the aircraft losing control.

Historical temperature data for Lviv shows that the temperature was between -2°C and -3°C (26°F to 28°F) at the time of the incident. At these temperatures, any liquid precipitation hitting the ground (i.e. supercooled rain) would immediately freeze.

This can make runway conditions to become treacherous without proper precautions, such as sanding and ice clearing.

A Ukraine International Airlines 737 lands at Kiev's Boryspil International Airport
Ukraine International Airlines is Ukraine’s flag carrier. Photo: Oleg Belyakov via Wikimedia Commons

Not the first time ice has caused problems at Lviv

Earlier this year ice caused issues for another carrier operating flights out of Lviv Airport. On 6 January a Turkish Airlines 737-800 bound for Istanbul was taxiing to the runway for take-off when it skidded off the runway.

At the time of this incident, Lviv was experiencing very heavy snow and ice cover across the runway. Visibility was also restricted significantly.

The Boeing 737-800 involved in the incident, registered TC-JVI, was only carrying 59 passengers at the time. Luckily there were no injuries, but the aircraft itself was subsequently taken in for repairs.

What can be done to prevent similar incidents in the future?

Freezing temperatures and inclement weather are common at many airports around the world. As long as conditions don’t become severe, a bit of ice and snow isn’t too much of a problem.

However, this relies upon the airport keeping runways and taxiways free from ice. Regular sanding and ice clearing is required to ensure that aircraft can maintain control when taxiing and landing.

Snow removal vehicles at Odate-Noshiro Airpor
Snow removal is vital to keep airports running smoothly throughout winter. Photo: Marho via Wikimedia Commons

As shown by yesterday’s incident, a simple slip off the runway can cause many hours of disruption for flights in and out of an airport.

Unfortunately, Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport hasn’t been able to respond to Simple Flying’s request for comment on the incident.