I can only imagine the fear going through a driver's head as their airport towing car slides in the snow while pushing a commercial airplane that's carrying hundreds of passengers. Unfortunately, an employee at New Chitose Airport in Japan had to experience just that yesterday, when their vehicle slipped while moving a Korean Air flight, causing the aircraft's wing to collide with that of another aircraft.
According to Reuters, the Korean Air Airbus A330 was loaded with 289 passengers and was in tow, preparing for take off. When the towing car slipped in the snow, it caused the A330's wing to clip a Cathay Pacific Boeing 777's tail wing. Both wings were heavily damaged, though thankfully the 777 was said to be empty, according to Sky News.
This is the second time two planes collided in Japan in just one month. A couple of weeks ago, two planes collided at Tokyo's Haneda airport, tragically killing five people. Thankfully no one was hurt this time, and all 289 Korean Air passengers made it off the plane without injury. No fuel leaks or fires were reported, either. Obviously, the two incidents are completely unrelated.
In a video from ABC News, you can see how heavily damaged the Korean Air plane's wing was, so the hit must have been pretty hard. However, you can also see just how bad the weather was, making the towing car's slip more understandable. The snow was really coming down, as several inches of powder had already accumulated and visibility was low. I don't envy the drivers on the ground at airports during those kinds of conditions.
Several flights were delayed and cancelled on Tuesday at New Chitose before that crash even happened, all due to the weather, so it isn't entirely surprising to see such incidents happen. Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial pilot and aviation expert, told the New York Times that smaller accidents like this one while taxiing "are not rare." Speaking as someone who isn't a big fan of flying to begin with, that doesn't make me feel great.
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