LATAM Airlines A320neo collides with a fire truck, catches fire runway

A LATAM Airlines Airbus A320 performing flight LA2213 caught fire at Lima Airport on November 18, 2022. The aircraft bound for the Lima-Juliaca route collided struck a fire truck at Jorge Chávez International Airport, Lima, resulting in the death of two firefighters. When the incident occurred, the plane was accelerating to take off at the runway carrying 102 passengers and six crew members. The collision caused a fire in the aircraft’s right wing due to friction against the runway. All passengers and crew evacuated the fire-struck aircraft and survived.

What happened?

On November 18, the LATAM Airlines A320neo, registered as CC-BHB, was performing a passenger flight on the Lima-Juliaca route. It was a short 524-mile domestic flight destined for Inca Manco Cápac International Airport, Juliaca, Peru. The aircraft was carrying 108 people onboard and preparing to take off from the runway in Lima. In line with a scheduled departure time of 2:55 PM, the Airbus jet accelerated at the Runway 16 to take off. When it collided with a vehicle, it was approaching the takeoff speed of 127knots (around 235km/hr).

Without permission, one of the fire trucks crossed the active runway where LATAM was speeding off to depart the airport. The plane never left the ground as it stopped toward the runway end, colliding with the vehicle. It was a deadly collision since the A320neo jet suffered significant damage in its right main gear and lost its right-hand engine. As a result of friction against the runway, the aircraft caught fire in its right wing. Several footages were posted on the internet showing the aircraft’s right wing bursting into flames with black fumes.

Soon after the incident occurred, firefighters rushed to the scene and started foaming the aircraft. All 102 passengers and six crew evacuated the jet through emergency slides.

Despite severe damage to the aircraft structure, all passengers and crew got off the plane alive. Reportedly, four passengers suffered serious injuries from the incident, while 36 were treated for minor injuries. Although there was no hull loss on the aircraft side, two firefighters, unfortunately, lost their lives. One of the firefighters in the fire truck is undergoing serious treatment in the Intensive Care Unit at the nearby hospital.

LATAM confirms the accident

The involved carrier, LATAM Peru, confirmed the accident of its flight LA2213 on the ground at Lima Airport during the takeoff roll. In addition to confirming no human casualties onboard, the LATAM Airlines Group subsidiary informed that it would provide necessary care to all passengers and offer flexibility to affected passengers at no extra cost. Furthermore, the carrier also notified that it had arranged the necessary resources to attend to concerned passengers and was working with local authorities to investigate the event’s cause.

Manuel van Oordt, the general manager of LATAM Peru, said he didn’t know why the fire truck was on the runway when the carrier had clear permission to take off. Videos on social media show multiple fire trucks approaching the active runway during the day of the incident. The reasons are varied: some claim they were responding to another emergency, while others say they were in training.

According to reports, the prosecutor’s office has already opened an investigation into the cause of the fire accident as potential manslaughter.

Lima Airport Partners

Lima Airport Partners (LAP), the operator of LIM Airport, also took to social media to notify the incident and the closure of all operations until Saturday, November 19. In the meantime, eight flights en route to Lima, including AA379, AF480, KLM 743, LC 2122, etc., were diverted to different airports in Colombia, Panama, and other Peruvian cities.

The airport authorities extended the runway closure period until 00: 00 on November 20 to remove all debris from the runway and check for damage. Flights to/from Lima Airport have been severely affected due to the fire incident. Jorge Chávez International Airport has seen over 400 flight cancellations, and efforts to resume operations are underway.

About Airbus A320neo

LATAM’s Airbus A320neo is a 4.4-year-old narrowbody aircraft leased to the carrier in 2019. The 180-seater aircraft belongs to the leasing company Avalon and bears the registration number CC-BHC. The aircraft was supposed to depart Lima at 2:55 and arrive in Juliaca at 4:30 before it hit the truck before takeoff. It’s the first-ever A320neo aircraft to be involved in hull loss.

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