Two Lima, Peru, airport firefighters were killed and another injured Friday when a LATAM Airlines A320neo hit a fire truck that entered the runway as it was taking off. According to Flightradar24 the aircraft was nearing V1 and going 127 knots when it slammed into the truck, collapsing the right main gear, shearing off the engine on that side and piercing the fuel tank. The aircraft was heavily damaged but there were no serious injuries among the passengers and crew.
The truck was apparently leading others in a drill to test response times to a new runway that is scheduled to open in January. Peruvian officials told a news conference the truck was not cleared to enter the runway. “In the audios that we have, there was clearly no authorization for any vehicle to enter the runway,” said Jorge Salinas, president of the country’s aeronautical agency, Corpac. “This case was a runway incursion. We do not know why it happened, if the cause was human, mechanical or of nature? That is being investigated. Let’s not speculate.”
The aircraft’s momentum carried it hundreds of yards down the runway before it came to a stop and the fuel ignited a major fire. Fortunately, at least one following fire truck was right there and was able to attack the flames immediately.