Passenger Jet Damaged After Hitting Runway Equipment

After colliding with runway infrastructure before takeoff, a passenger plane carrying 106 passengers was forced to return to an airport in Serbia. When the plane hit the instrument landing equipment on the neighboring runway, the aircraft was severely damaged on the left side. The aircraft successfully landed after making an emergency return due to the incident. No one was reported injured.

The incident took place at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport. It is an essential transportation node in the area, and the airport has evolved considerably.

En route to Düsseldorf, Germany, the Embraer E-195 aircraft departed on the afternoon of February 18th. The plane belonged to Marathon Airlines.  Marathon Airlines, a charter firm based in Greece,  had been flying many aircraft on a long-term basis for AirSerbia, the national airline of Serbia.

Embraer developed the E-195, the biggest member of the E-Jet series, to bridge the gap in regional and mainline aircraft. It is well-suited for low-cost operators with high-performance needs because of its efficiency, route optimization, and low cost.

At Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, flight JU324 was seen by live tracker Flightradar24 lining up on an intersecting path halfway down the runway, suggesting there was insufficient space for a takeoff.

Photographs and video of the wrecked plane reveal massive damage in the fuselage near the left wing’s base and more damage at the rear.  Jet fuel appeared to be coming from the wrecked plane, so firefighters sprayed foam over the fuselage.

Serbian media quoted passengers as saying that the plane rocked as it maintained a holding pattern for nearly an hour after having trouble gaining altitude. The plane then returned and landed at Belgrade airport. A security detail removed the passengers from the plane. Air Serbia assured the passengers were not in danger and that the flight’s return was due to technical issues.

The airport was temporarily closed, and flights that were supposed to land there had to use alternative airports.

According to AirSerbia, the damage was so extensive that the incident caused Marathon Airlines and Air Serbia to end the working relationship.