Singapore Airshow 2018: Single-seater aircraft involved in accident; pilot escapes with minor injuries

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An aircraft from The Black Eagles skids and crashes into the grass at Changi Airport.
The aircraft had crashed into the grass verge at the side of Runway 1 before catching fire. PHOTO: ST READER
Airport Emergency Service put out the fire and the pilot escaped with minor injuries. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR
Passengers at Changi Airport Terminal 3 were told to board their plane at Terminal 2. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

SINGAPORE - A single-seater South Korean military aircraft taking part in the Singapore Airshow 2018 skidded and caught fire while taking off at Changi Airport at around 1.30pm on Tuesday (Feb 6).

The T-50 aircraft, which is part of the South Korean aerobatic team The Black Eagles, crashed into the grass verge at the side of Runway 1 before catching fire.

The accident forced the airport to close one of its two runways for about six hours, causing flights to be delayed and hundreds of travellers stranded.

Changi Airport Group (CAG) said in a statement on Tuesday night that about 170 flights were delayed by an hour or more.

"The staff of the airlines, ground handlers and CAG worked together to assist affected passengers. Flight operations are expected to return to normal later on Tuesday night," the spokesman said.

Five hours after the mishap, CAG posted an update on its Facebook page at about 6.35pm to say that the damaged aircraft has been removed from Runway 1 and restoration of the runway has commenced.

"In order for flight operations to resume safely, the runway will be thoroughly checked and cleaned up to ensure it is safe and ready for operations," the statement said.

Passengers are advised to contact their airlines, or check or the iChangi app for the status of their flight.

" We seek your patience and understanding," CAG said.

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At about 7.10pm, it said in another Facebook update that Runway 1 has reopened.

"We are doing our best to return to normal flight operations as soon as possible," CAG said.

The plane was taking off for the flying display programme at the Singapore Airshow.

Airport Emergency Service put out the fire and the pilot escaped with minor injuries. He was sent to the airport clinic for a check-up and subsequently discharged.

The Straits Times understands that the plane flipped over after its tyre burst as it was taking off.

Singapore Airlines also said on its Facebook page that some delays to its flight operations were expected due to the closure of Changi Airport Runway 1.

One of the affected flights at Changi Airport was a Thai Airways plane that was bound for Bangkok.

A passenger, Mr Marc de Vries, 38, said that he and others had already boarded the 2.15pm Thai Airways flight when they were told to disembark from the plane.

"The captain said at first that we had to stay in the plane for three hours due to a mishap on the runway. But 15 minutes later, we were told to get off the plane," said Mr de Vries, who runs a tyre-trading business.

He was going on a business trip and said he has to reschedule some of the meetings he lined up.

Mr de Vries added that the passengers were given free food at the airport's food court, and told to return to the boarding gate at 4.30pm.

"If the incident happened before my flight, why did they still ask us to board the plane?" said Mr de Vries.

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