Double Trouble: Ground Collision Incidents at Chinese Airports Raise Alarm

On the same day in China, two separate ground collision incidents took place, raising concerns about the safety of ground operations at airports. A passenger shuttle bus crashed through a glass wall at Xiamen Airport, while a tow truck collided with an Airbus A320 at Shanghai Pudong Airport. Let’s examine these incidents and discuss their potential impact on airport safety.

Xiamen Airport Shuttle Bus Incident

On the morning of May 5th, a passenger shuttle bus at Xiamen Airport (XMN) smashed through a glass wall in Terminal 3, shocking nearby passengers. Fortunately, no one was seated close to the glass facade during the crash, and there were no reported injuries.

ground collision incidents
Photo: Kerry Allen

The Xiamen Municipal Public Security Bureau attributed the accident to the driver’s failure to steer the vehicle correctly. As a result, flights boarding from nearby gates experienced delays of about an hour.

Tow Truck Collision with Airbus A320 in Shanghai

In the evening of the same day, another ground collision occurred at Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG). Images reveal a tow truck’s roof lodged beneath the front fuselage of a Beijing Capital Airlines Airbus A320. However, details about the collision remain scarce.

ground collision incidents
Photo: Morrisssssssss via Jetphotos data indicates that the affected flight, JD417 from Shanghai to Bangkok, departed four hours late. It is unclear whether the same aircraft involved in the collision or a replacement plane conducted this delayed flight.

Implications for Airport Safety

These incidents happened shortly after China’s busy five-day May holiday travel period, suggesting that worker fatigue may have played a role. Unfortunately, these accidents highlight a concerning trend of potential safety risks in ground operations at airports.

As the global aviation industry recovers from the COVID pandemic, it has faced numerous operational challenges, leading to an increase in safety incidents, not just in China but globally. Factors such as staff shortages and a sudden increase in flight movements have contributed to this situation.

In response, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a bulletin in April demanding higher safety standards from airlines and airports. The CAAC cited “laziness” among staff and management and a lack of a robust safety culture. Low wages for aviation staff, including ground workers in China, may also contribute to these safety risks.

ground collision incidents
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The two ground collision incidents in China underscore the need to address safety concerns in ground operations at airports as the industry rebounds from the pandemic. It is essential for airlines, airports, and aviation authorities to collaborate in fostering a safety-conscious culture, providing adequate training, and ensuring that safety remains a top priority.

How can airports better address safety concerns in ground operations? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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