An Ilyushin 76 cargo plane overshot the runway at St. John’s International Airport Monday and forced the temporary closure of all the facility’s airstrips.
None of the nine-member crew on the plane was injured in the incident. They had been on a scheduled landing on their way from Prestwick, Scotland.
The crew is in good spirits, said Bob Nurse, a spokesman for the airport.
“Actually I’ve talked to some of the flight crew. They’re quite relaxed. Obviously they’re not happy where they ended up,” he said.
As for what may have caused the plane to overshoot — Nurse said anything he could have said Monday would have been speculation.
“I guess it is something that will be determined as we go forward,” he said, adding the Transportation and Safety Board will investigate.
He said weather conditions appeared to be normal as the plane came in, and that it was a routine landing until the aircraft overshot the runway.
According to the tail number on the aircraft, it's owned by Volga-Dnepr Airlines, which announced in June that it added a fifth new IL-76TD-90VD cargo aircraft to its fleet.
The modernized 50-tonne-capacity freighter performed its first commercial flight in mid-June.
The overrun occurred around 4:20 p.m. The airport authority said it activated its emergency plan, and its emergency response team responded to the incident along with the St. John’s Regional Fire Department, Eastern Health and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.
The airport’s two runways were closed to complete initial inspections and assessments, but one of the airstrips was opened about an hour after the incident. The other runway will remain closed until 9 p.m. today to facilitate further inspection of the infrastructure.
Passengers are advised to check with their airlines on the status of their flight prior to going to the airport.
The large cargo plane appeared, from a distance, to be undamaged as it rested near a set of lights off the end of the runway.
Witnesses from the crew working on the “Republic of Doyle” set, a stone’s throw from where the aircraft came to rest, said they heard two bursts of engine noise coming from the runway.
“We saw the last few seconds of it where it made the turn and started throwing sods up,” said Barry King.
“We heard the big roar, a couple of seconds of nothing, and then a big roar again,” he added.
Since the “Republic of Doyle” set is so close to the airport, the show’s crew is accustomed to the planes coming and going, but it was a double blast of jet engines that first piqued everyone’s curiosity. It was an unusual noise, said King.