Ethiopian B767 in unscheduled landing at Arusha Airport


(Posted 18th December 2013 14.15 hrs local EAT)

Information was just received from a regular airline source in Tanzania that Ethiopian Airlines apparently had an unscheduled landing of a B767-300ER at the Arusha Municipal Airport around 13.15 hrs local time. The airport’s runway is reportedly only 1.620 metres long, or 5.315 feet, too short for regular B767 operations, so the question is now being asked what prompted this high risk landing at ARK (IATA three letter code) / HTAR (ICAO four letter code). The airport’s elevation is given in official documents as 4.550 feet above mean sea level or 1.387 metres. The aircraft, registered as ET-AQW was operating on flight number ET815 from Addis via Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar and back to Addis.

From initial reports it appears that none of the passengers or crew have been injured and that the plane made it to a complete halt just before the end of the runway. The airport has also reportedly been closed for any other flights in and out of ARK requiring the rescheduling of Precision Air’s flights as well as a number of charters from and to the national parks.

Sources based at Kilimanjaro International Airport just gave added details that the flight was approaching JRO but could not land due to an aircraft on the runway with a problem. Why the flight was then diverted to ARK and not a standard diversion airport like Nairobi or Dar es Salaam will be subject to a detailed investigation, especially if rumours were to be confirmed that the incoming flight was short of fuel. The diversion to Arusha Municipal Airport is already being hotly debated in local aviation circles as it put passengers, crew and aircraft at extreme risk. It is unclear if the B767, even if stripped of equipment and seats, will be able to safely take off from ARK and fly to JRO, when that airport is eventually open and fully operational again.

While full compliments must be extended to the cockpit crew for their skills to land the plane safely the reasons for the diversion will be subject to a full air incident enquiry with all options presently kept open as to the reasons for the unscheduled diversion. Stand by for more updates as and when more news and additional information become available.

16.00 hrs EAT


Additional information just received now confirms that the plane actually overshot the short runway at Arusha Municipal Airport and the front wheels got stuck in soft soil. Further updates are expected in due course.


41 Responses

    1. How can someone issue the NOTAM in 5 minutes emergency. The B767 must have some extra fuel for another 30 min to 45 min maneuver in case of bad weather or crippled plane on runway. Why did they land in ARK

      1. Most intriguing of course is the fact that dozens of Ethiopian Airlines staff are now trying to serve their masters in denying the facts … several claim that ONLY the nose gear was off the runway, which of course my pictures reveal as blatant untruth … the entire main landing gear was off the runway.
        In any case, if the crew was ‘miscommunicated to’ by the tower they still have the duty to check their maps and airport information for ARK which would have told them THAT airport is unfit for a B767-300 landing. They did a sterling job in landing the bird but a lousy job going into ARK in the first place. I rest my case – oh yes, and you sycophant mouthpieces, your cause is lost.

  1. What i have just heard is that his plane couldn’t land at KIA because there is a plane with a flat tire on the runway and it appeared that the approaching aircraft came with minimum fuel

      1. Wolfgang, you can be quite dramatic when it comes to anything related to Ethiopian Airlines, or any competition to Kenya Airways for that matter. You have already made your assessment and judgement without an investigation being completed, and are using your position as a correspondent to eTurboNews to make such allegations.

  2. just curious ,,,,,is that really ethiopian airline?????because we all know ethiopian airlines colours..

  3. He did not overshoot the runway. Infact, the reason he ended up in the grass was due to a failed attempt at turning the aircraft around on a narrow runway.

      1. eye witness accounts state otherwise. they managed to stop at the very end. I have some convincing pictures if you would like to see them. still trying to track down a video. The truth will be out soon.

      2. OK it seems you are set on what you believe. PLease see the following link.

        It has all the latest details including the full stop and attempted turn around in the grass… The eye witness accounts are from very reliable pilot friends of mine who saw the whole thing unfold. I have been working and living in Arusha for many years and I’m getting this information first hand, Like it or not these are the facts.


  4. I was at airport. Confirmed from reliable source that aircraft had smooth flight from Addis to Kilimanjaro. During approach disabled aircraft on runway prevented landing at Kilimanjaro. Flight had enough fuel and no techncial issues. But apparent miscommunication between tower and cockpit led to landing at Arusha Airport

  5. Yup, that is what I am hearing. Enough fuel in aircraft and no techncial issue. Plane couldn’t land in KIL. But tower and cockpit miscommunicated diverting aircraft to Arusha. Flying crew did a fantastic job under circumstances!

  6. Yup, that’s what I’m hearin’. Smooth flight and not technical issues. Aircraft “stuck” on runway at Kilimanjaro, so plane couldn’t land. But miscommunication between tower and cockpit made aircraft land at Arusha. Great job by ET flying crew under circumstances!

  7. God is good the pilots landed safely without loss of life and property

  8. I was on it. We thought we were coming into Kilimanjaro for the landing, what seemed to be bad turbulence and surging on and off of the engines while still at altitude, very rough landing, pulled up metres short of the runway onto the grass. We were told very little, crew were not in control of the situation following landing. Stuck in the plane for 3.5 hrs because they were bringing stairs for disembarkment from Kilimanjaro. Eventually opened the emergency slide after much discontent in board. Crew were poor, but all thanks to the pilots for getting us down under the conditions. No injuries. Plane was unmarked (ie, no Ethiopian emblems), people had seat allocations for seats not even existent on that particular plane, told to wait to find an alternative seat once the plane was fully boarded. Fingers crossed for the next flight. Again, all credit to the pilots. Sorry for te long update!

  9. How soon did cockpit know about the presence of a disabled plane on the runway ?

    1. Ethiopian will have to get that plane out of Arusha sooner or later and THAT will be
      a major challenge as the runway is short of the 6.000 feet said to be required to safely
      take off. They may have to strip equipment out to lighten the plane’s take off weight
      and then go with minimum fuel across to Kilimanjaro where they can put the stuff back in
      again. Monitoring. Thanks for reading my blog.

  10. It seems the pilots mistook Arusha 27 to be JRO 27, since the rumor is they were talking on Kilimanjaro frequency when landing. Visual approach fail…

  11. Inspite of all that everybody hear and wait for a report I srongly say thanx God as everyone is doing fine

  12. Posted earlier, was a passenger here. Just want to give a little further insight to the extent of disorder on the plane in the hours following landing. One particular example, which the majority of passengers can verify (whom were within viewing distance atleast), and one that is rather disconcerting, is that after about one-two hours following the landing, a passenger opened the emergency door above the left wing without crew authorisation (viewable within some images). A number of passengers proceeded to climb out onto the wing, taking photos, while atleast one passenger (again, many of us observed) proceeded to light and smoke a cigarette whilst out on the wing. They were there for approximately 10 minutes before getting back in the plane. As mentioned in the previous post, the crew did not have the situation under control, many passengers were astounded by what appeared to be a complete lack of training/response/professionalism regarding a situation such as this. Very damning appearance for Ethiopian Airlines for many of the passengers involved (is the impression i took from discussions with fellow passengers during and after the incident).
    Im no professional re. terminology, sorry, but will keep an eye on here, and if anyone has any further questions about the first person perspective, feel free to ask.

    1. Again many thanks for sharing this with my readers. It also belies the pathetic attempts by Ethiopian Airlines to portray this situation as ‘normal’ or having flown into an ‘alternate airport’ … let’s call a spade a spade, this was an extremely high risk decision taken by the cockpit crew who very likely lacked the situational awareness of what airport they were flying into and thankfully no passengers or crew came to harm but this could have ended very differently.

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