12 Years Ago Today A Cargolux 747 Struck A Van While Landing

On January 21st, 2010, a Cargolux Boeing 747-400 freighter hit a van when landing at Luxembourg Airport. The aircraft was flying in from Barcelona, Spain and the cause of the accident was determined to be due to Air Traffic Control (ATC) error.

There were scares on the ground in Luxembourg 12 years ago today. Photo: Getty Images

Cleared to land

The crew members on the 747 were performing Flight 7933, with a total of three people on board. The plane was cleared to land on runway 24 in low visibility due to fog. However, when lowering, one of the jumbo’s tires hit the roof of a maintenance van that was parked on the runway.

The Aviation Herald reported that the van’s driver escaped with a shock. However, the van was significantly damaged. Moreover, the plane’s tire was notably affected.

Luxembourg’s Ministry of Transport shared that the van was on the runway to conduct maintenance regarding ground lighting. As a result of the impact, authorities launched three investigations.

Cargolux 747-400
Cargolux’s jumbo jets can be spotted across the continents on critical shipping missions. Photo: Getty Images

Error on the ground

Two years after the accident, it was concluded that the cause was because of errors by ATC. The van had been instructed to leave the runway but controllers didn’t confirm that the information was received and executed before allowing the Cargloux 747 to land.

The van and the jet were utilizing different radio frequencies so didn’t know each other’s whereabouts. Nonetheless, the crew did see the van just before landing, but it was determined that a collision still would have happened if a go-around had been attempted.

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“Damage to the aircraft was limited to cuts on tire nr 12 located on the right hand body landing gear, sustained from impact with the van’s lightbar which was ripped off. The tire had to be replaced. It is unlikely that the damage to the tire could stem from a previous flight considering that the tires nr 11 and 12 had been replaced shortly before in Hong Kong and that the Barcelona-Luxembourg leg was the 3rd flight since the replacement,” Luxembourg’s Administration of Technical Investigations shared in a December 2012 report.

“The roof of the maintenance van was damaged on the whole length of the vehicle. The light-bar and the R/T antennas were ripped off on impact.”

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More on the aircraft

Registration LX-OCV was the 747 involved in the accident. The freighter was taken on by Cargololux in July 1999 with the name of City of Differdange.  The plane then came under the fold of Cargolux Italia in October 2015. According to ch-aviation, it has been back with the Carglolux mainline since June 2018.

City of Differdange at Luxembourg Findel Airport in July 2011. Photo: Jwh via Wikimedia Commons

Luxembourg is the home of Cargolux, a global cargo powerhouse. The firm was founded in March 1970 and is one of the largest scheduled all-cargo airlines in Europe. The company is a fan of the jumbo, holding both the 737-400ERF and 747-400FSCD models. With so many flights conducted with these quadjets, there have been several general incidents reported over the years, including a fire warning in Amsterdam last month.

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Following the investigation into the January 2010 accident, twelve recommendations were made, including the deployment of equipment that could record ATC communications with at least the previous 24 hours of recordings being kept. Luxembourg officials were evidently taking the occurrence seriously as the damage could have been fatal.

What are your thoughts about this Boeing 747 incident in Luxembourg? What do you make of the cause of the accident? Let us know what your overall thoughts are in the comment section.

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