Tail smoke from aircraft raises alarm at Hong Kong airport

No flames were detected but firefighters were put on standby for ‘minor incident’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 January, 2017, 9:59pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 January, 2017, 10:28pm

Firemen were deployed to a Thai Airways flight at Hong Kong International Airport on Sunday when smoke was seen coming from the tail of an aircraft after it landed.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

The TG629 flight from Seoul landed at the airport at about 2pm when a substantial amount of smoke was seen emerging from its tail as it was docked in the parking bay.

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Witnesses reported seeing a fire engine approaching the affected Airbus A330 shortly. The smoke disappeared soon after. Firemen did not apply a water jet or deploy the breathing apparatus team.

Firefighting devices and an ambulance were put on standby during the incident.

A spokesman from the Fire Services Department said it received a call at 2.04pm over a suspected engine fire.

The Airport Authority said the Fire Services Department did not detect fire on the plane however, and the incident did not affect the operation of the airport.

Pilot-turned-lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho said the case might have involved the auxiliary power unit at the back of the aircraft.

He said the unit might have overheated or there might have been a malfunction of the temperature detector, triggering the automated fire extinguisher.

The unit provides electricity and pressure for both the engine and cabin after an aircraft lands.

Tam said: “If the plane is on the ground and encounters any issues from the unit, it will be much safer and controllable than when it is flying. If the system has problems in the air, the situation will be much more complex.”

He said that in the worst scenario caused by an overheated auxiliary power unit on the ground, passengers would simply be evacuated, but if the problem happened in the air, some other systems could have been affected too.

He added that the unit would actually not be activated in the air unless the plane encountered some other major problems, such as engine failure.

A ground service representative for Thai Airways said the incident was minor and not uncommon for a plane, adding that the aircraft later left the city as scheduled.