Recovering a stuck aircraft: Not an easy job

Recovering a stuck aircraft: Not an easy job

It is not a simple job to recover a big Airbus that has slid off the runway, especially one with a damaged front landing gear. Here's how it was done after the recent accident at Khon Kaen airport.

Please join us on our Facebook page

With no taxiways at Khon Kaen airport, aircraft returning to Bangkok need to make a U-turn at the end of the runway. This one was not successful. Photos by Pattanapong Hirunard.

Recovering a stuck aircraft: Not an easy job

Last Monday evening at about 8pm THAI Airways Flight TG047 was preparing for takeoff at Khon Kaen airport for a trip to Bangkok.

Since there are no taxiways at the airport, the Airbus A330 was driven to the end of the runway where it began a routine U-turn.

Stuck! The tyre of the front landing gear had to be replaced before the plane was moved back on the runway. But how?

For reasons still unclear, the turn was not completed successfully and the nose wheel and landing gear on one side of the aircraft ended up stuck in the soft ground next to the runway.

It is not a simple job to get such a huge aircraft back on the runway, especially with a damaged front landing gear whose tyre had to be changed.

Officials immediately closed the airport and a team of technicians from Thai Airways International and soldiers from Nam Phong Air Squadron 237 went to work.

Fuel was removed from the aircraft to make it lighter.

Air Force personnel remove soil from around the landing gear.

To reduce the weight of the plane, its fuel was removed. Soil was also removed from around the landing gear and the aircraft was lifted using two sets of inflated air cushions, allowing the tyre change to take place.

Air cushions were inflated at the back and front to lift the aircraft.

The job was finished at about 2:50am Wednesday morning. The airport closure affected 11 flights and about 3,500 passengers who were forced to use the Udon Thani airport instead. 

Story contains information from the Bangkok Post and the Thailand National News Bureau.

Learn from listening

Click play to listen to audio for this story, or download to save the file
: :


  • air cushion (noun): a bag-like object that can be filled with air - หมอนลม
  • closure (noun): the shutting down of a school, factory or other business or service - การปิด
  • gear (noun): the special equipment that you use for a particular job or activity - อุปกรณ์
  • huge: very large - ใหญ่โต
  • immediately (adv): happening right after something else with no delay; right away - ทันที
  • inflated: caused to increase in size by filling with air - ตุ่ย, ยุ้ย, พอง
  • lift: to move something to a higher position - ยกขึ้น
  • passenger: someone who travels in a motor vehicle, aircraft, train, or ship but is not the driver or one of the people who works on it - ผู้โดยสาร
  • personnel: the people who are employed in a company, organization or one of the armed forces - บุคลากร, เจ้าหน้าที่, พนักงาน
  • recover (verb): to get something back that has been lost or has had problems - to get something that was lost, stolen, or owed นำกลับคืน, กู้
  • reduce: to make something smaller or less in amount, size, importance etc - ลดลง
  • remove (verb): to take something away - เอาออก
  • replace: to put something new in place of something old - นำสิ่งใหม่มาใช้แทน
  • routine: ordinary and not interesting or special; usual and not done for any special reason - ตามปกติ
  • runway (noun): a long narrow strip of ground with a hard surface that an aircraft takes off from and lands on - ทางขึ้นลงของเครื่องบิน
  • simple: easy to understand; not complicated - ง่าย,ไม่ยุ่งยาก, ไม่ซับซ้อน
  • soil: the substance on the surface of the Earth in which plants grow - ดิน
  • squadron: normally a particular section of the armed forces, especially of the air force - ฝูงเครื่องบิน
  • stuck: unable to move, or fixed in a particular position or place - ติด
  • takeoff (noun): when an airplane leaves the ground at the beginning of a flight going somewhere; departure - การร่อนขึ้นจากพื้นดิน, การบินขึ้น
  • taxiway (noun): the hard path that a plane uses as it moves to and from the runway -

Do you like the content of this article?