- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Tocumen International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Pedro Heilbron
At around 23:30 on Tuesday, the authorities of Tocumen International Airport (PTY) removed the Copa Airlines Boeing 737-800 that suffered a runway excursion on Sunday and forced the closure of runway 03R. It took about 46 hours to take the aircraft out of the green area next to the runway.
On Sunday, Copa Airlines flight CM135 between Mexico City Benito Juárez International (MEX) and Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport (PTY) suffered a runway excursion while landing at runway 03R in the Panamanian hub. At the time of the incident, it was heavily raining, and there were gusts of wind, which may have caused the excursion. The local civil aviation authorities have launched an investigation to determine the causes of the incident.
Onboard the flight, there were 159 passengers and seven crew members. Both Copa Airlines and Tocumen airport authorities confirmed there were no injuries as a result of the incident. The plane, registration HP-1539CMP and MSN 29667, remained stuck on one side of the runway, which forced the airport to close 03R operations.
On Monday and Tuesday, PTY operated with only one runway 03L. Additionally, Panama continued to have bad weather, which forced the airport authorities to shut down at times, canceling and delaying some flights and diverting other incoming services to different airports, such as Panama Pacífico Airport (BLB).
Removing the aircraft
As shown by the authorities at Montpellier Airport in France, removing an aircraft stuck after a runway excursion is not an easy task. This weekend, Montpellier Airport held an impressive recovery mission after a Boeing 737-400 Freighter suffered a runway excursion and reached an adjacent lake located next to Montpellier’s runway.
Removing an aircraft is a complex and lengthy process involving various pieces of heavy machinery because, more often than not, the aircraft remains stuck in grass and mud after a runway excursion. In Panama, the recovery of Copa’s Boeing 737-800 took 46 hours. Tocumen Airport authorities announced that at 23:30 on September 27th, it had reopened runway 03R, resuming normal operations at the ‘Hub of the Americas.’
The aircraft involved in the incident
Copa Airlines has one of the safest records globally. Throughout its history, the Panamanian flag carrier has had only one fatal crash, which took place on June 6, 1992, when Copa’s flight 201 crashed into the jungle of the Darién Gap flying between Panama City and Cali, Colombia.
The aircraft involved in Copa’s runway excursion this Sunday is a Boeing 737-800 registration HP-1539CMP. It is owned by Aviation Capital Group and leased to the Tocumen-based carrier. The aircraft has a capacity to carry 160 passengers in a two-class configuration (144 in economy and 16 in business).
According to ch-aviation, this plane was first ordered by Delta Air Lines in 1997, although the US carrier never took delivery of it. Instead, Boeing delivered this 737-800 to Copa Airlines in March 2010 and has had nearly 41,000 flight hours and about 14,000 flight cycles.
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