HIROSHIMA – Investigators have found engine turbine blades of an Asiana Airlines jet that skidded off the runway after a hard landing at Hiroshima Airport last week were severely damaged, possibly because the jetliner approached too low and clipped an instrument landing system antenna array, the Japan Transport Safety Board said Tuesday.
The landing gear of the twin-engine Airbus aircraft operated by the South Korean airline clipped the wireless communication tower off the end of the runway moments before landing. It is possible pieces from that equipment damaged the engines.
The JTSB released photos showing the damaged 6.4-meter-tall ILS antenna array at the airport, as well as parts of the aircraft scattered nearby.
Investigators are interviewing the South Korean pilot and co-pilot to determine the cause of the April 14 accident that injured more than 20 passengers and caused the airport to be closed until last Friday morning.
An initial analysis of the plane and its flight recorder found no evidence of malfunctioning.
“So far, we have judged that there were no abnormalities in the aircraft,” chief accident investigator Koji Tsuji said.
The safety board plans to finish analyzing the aircraft flight and voice recorders within a week.
Key findings so far include the fact visibility to the east of the airport deteriorated suddenly during the time Asiana Flight 162 from Seoul botched its landing and ran off the runway at around 8:05 p.m. that day.
Some aviation experts have said the pilot may have been wrong to proceed to land despite the poor weather conditions.
Located about 325 meters from the eastern end of the runway, the ILS provides precision guidance for a safe approach and landing under conditions of reduced visibility. It is expected to take up to eight months for the ILS to be fully restored.
Transport minister Akihiro Ota said Tuesday the aircraft, which remains at the airport, will be removed by Monday morning.