Singapore Airlines plane in near-collision at South Korea's Incheon airport: Reports

A file photo of a Korean Air A330 taxiing out at Incheon International Airport.
A file photo of a Korean Air A330 taxiing out at Incheon International Airport. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

SINGAPORE - A Singapore Airlines (SIA) plane was involved in a near-collision with a Korean Air jet at Incheon International Airport in Seoul last Thursday (May 5), local media reported.

Disaster was narrowly averted when an air traffic controller ordered SQ16, which was bound for San Francisco, to make an emergency stop after KE929, which was headed for the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, unexpectedly taxied near an intersection on the runway without permission.

SQ16, which had reportedly been travelling at just under 200kmh as it was accelerating for take-off at about 5.50pm (4.50pm Singapore time), shredded its tyres during the braking process.

In response to media queries, an SIA spokesman said SQ16 had aborted its take-off following instructions that were received from air traffic control. 

"The aborted take-off resulted in the deflation of a number of tyres on the Boeing 777-300ER, requiring passengers to disembark from the aircraft on the taxiway," the spokesman added. 

There were 186 passengers and 18 crew on board. 

The two planes were about 1.7km apart when both came to a complete stop, reported the Korea IT Times. KE929, an Airbus A330-200 according The Aviation Herald, was carrying 188 passengers. 

The SIA spokesman said SQ16's departure was delayed for about 19 hours as the plane's tyres had to be replaced. Affected passengers were provided with accommodation. 

It eventually departed for San Francisco at 1.05pm on Friday (May 6). 

KE929, meanwhile, was diverted back to the apron and took off about two hours after the incident. Its pilots were said to have ignored earlier instructions from the air traffic controller.

According to a Korea Times report, South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is investigating and is expected to release its report in two or three weeks.