A TUI Boeing 787 Dreamliner destined for Curaçao was damaged in an incident at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on Thursday. The plane appears to have been pulled too far, causing the nacelle of the left engine to collide with the gate’s airbridge.
Understandably, things can feel a little rusty when returning to work after a long hiatus, or a lull in activities. As traffic begins to pick up at Schiphol Airport and the first charter flights are once more taking off across the Atlantic to the Dutch overseas territories, surely ground crew is busier than in the past few months. However, one eager little tow-truck’s overshooting of the mark might turn out to be a costly affair.
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Loud bang upon collision
On Thursday, a TUI Netherland’s 787 Dreamliner was being towed to its gate from where it was to fly to Curaçao for the first time since the pandemic put an abrupt halt to leisure travel back in March. Unfortunately, the particular aircraft will have to wait a little longer.
While a spokesperson for TUI told Simple Flying that the cause of the incident is still under investigation, footage shows the 787 in question being pulled to its gate. While there is no direct line of sight to the collision, there is a loud bang, the aviobridge wobbles, and the plane comes to an abrupt halt.
Dent in engine housing
A photo from right after the incident clearly shows a substantial dent in the nacelle, the aerodynamically shaped housing encapsulating the jet engines.
— Dr. Bob Baron (@TACGAirSafety) July 2, 2020
TUI was reportedly able to exchange the plane for another 787. Thus, the incident resulted in no more than an hour’s delay for the passengers. However, the TUI spokesperson said the extent of the damage is still under assessment.
TUI’s K,L, and M
TUI Netherlands operates three Boeing 787-8s. They are cheekily registered as PH-TFK, L, and M. Whether that’s a nod of respect or a challenge to its compatriot Dutch flag-carrier is hard to say. All the company’s Dreamliners are on lease since they joined the fleet in October 2015.
According to Planespotters, the entire TUI Group has 19 Dreamliners in its fleet, most of which have been parked since the outbreak of the pandemic. The leisure travel giant has not fared well so far in 2020, although then again who has.
Its German branch recently announced it is looking at getting rid of as much as half of its 39 737-800s. Even as the tour operator intends to “reinvent the holiday” for a more pandemic-adapted demand and concerns, it is cutting about 8,000 jobs.
Not the only 787 towing incident this month
While towing aircraft seems a fairly straight-forward business, now and then an accident occurs. Such as earlier this month, when a BA 787 was pushed back too far before a flight from Edmonton, Canada, to London’s Heathrow, ending up in the mud. While a nuisance for the airlines, the crew, and of course, the passengers, thankfully, the damage in both instances was purely material.