China’s Tibet Airlines said all passengers and crew had been evacuated from an Airbus A319 plane that caught fire after an aborted takeoff in the southwestern city of Chongqing on Thursday, May 12.
There were no deaths and only minor injuries among the 113 passengers and nine crew members on board, the airline said in a statement.
Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said 36 people suffered bruises and sprains during the evacuation of flight TV9833 and were sent to local hospitals for examination.
The front portion of the Airbus SE A319 aircraft was engulfed in flames and enveloped by thick black smoke. Passengers carrying bags and other items were seen on the tarmac running away from the burning jet.
The pilots had interrupted the takeoff in line with procedures after experiencing an abnormality, CAAC said in a statement, leading to an engine scrape and fire after the plane veered off the runway. Emergency plans were activated and investigators rushed to the scene.
The incident came less than two months after the deadly crash of a China Eastern Airlines plane led the country’s aviation regulator to launch a safety drive.
Unverified video on social media showed a Tibet Airlines plane, a subsidiary of Air China, with heavy smoke and flames pouring from the left side of the aircraft as passengers and crew walked away.
The aircraft involved is a nine-year-old A319, one of the smallest versions of the A320 family. It is powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and Safran.
Tibet Airlines is a regional airline based in Lhasa. It has a fleet of 39 planes, including 28 A319s.
On March 21, a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed in mountains in southern China, killing everyone on board. So far there have been few clues about the cause of the accident.
The tragedy shocked a country which had vastly improved its safety record to become one of the best in the world. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, China was one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for aviation, measured by passenger traffic, during the past decade.