Over the weekend, an Airbus A300 belonging to Iranian carrier Meraj Airlines had to abort its takeoff while departing Tehran for Istanbul. This resulted in the plane suffering a runway excursion, which temporarily closed the landing strip in question. Let’s look at how this incident unfolded, and the resulting delays that occurred.
The flight in question
According to The Aviation Herald, the service that suffered the runway excursion in question was Meraj Airlines flight JI4805. This flight is also designated as MRJ4805 under ICAO coding. It originates at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA), one of two airports in the Iranian capital that serve as Meraj Airlines’ hubs.
The destination of this service is Turkey’s Istanbul Airport (IST), a relatively new facility that is approaching three years since its full-scale opening in April 2019. The route is incredibly competitive, with several other carriers also present on this corridor. These reportedly include the likes of ATA Airlines, Iran Airtrour, Iran Aseman Airlines, Mahan Air, Qeshm Air, and Turkish Airlines.
Additionally, low-cost carriers AnadoluJet and Pegasus Airlines also fly from Tehran to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW). All in all, this makes for a very busy corridor between Iran and Turkey, with data from FlightRadar24.com showing that Meraj Airlines recently started flying the Airbus A300 on this route. The widebody twinjet offers more than 100 additional seats vs the A320 Meraj used until two weeks ago.
The extent of the demand on Meraj Airlines’ Tehran-Istanbul route is exemplified by the fact that, on March 19th, flight JI4805 had 260 passengers onboard. This represented a load factor of 96.3% when compared to the A300’s 270-seat capacity, as listed by ch-aviation.com. The flight was also carrying 12 crew members.
For these occupants, things took a turn for the worse when the aircraft had to abort its takeoff from Tehran’s 4,198-meter-long Runway 29R due to a brake fault indication. This occurred at a low speed, but, nevertheless, the jet ended up veering off to the left of the runway. It eventually came to a stop when its left main landing gear came into contact with the adjacent soft ground.
The Aviation Herald notes that a burst tire may have played a role in the runway excursion that occurred after the aborted takeoff. In any case, the incident closed runway 29R for around two hours and delayed the flight by an even greater margin. Indeed, it was eventually able to leave around 13.5 hours late, resulting in an 02:47 arrival into Istanbul in the early hours of the next morning.
Despite the incident and the subsequent delays, the flight made it to Turkey the next morning. Image: FlightRadar24.com
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The aircraft involved
The aircraft involved in this incident was an Airbus A300-600R which bears the registration EP-SIG. According to data from ch-aviation, it is one of two such aircraft in Meraj Airlines’ fleet and the only active example. It is 27.11 years old, having first been delivered to China Northern Airlines back in May 1995. It has also flown for China Southern Airlines, Korean Air, and Saha Air.
As for the aircraft’s time at Meraj Airlines, EP-SIG joined the privately-owned Iranian carrier in February 2016. Its 270-seat configuration has space for 252 economy (eight-abreast) and 18 business class (six-abreast with flatbeds) passengers . It wears a distinctive color scheme designed to raise awareness for the critically endangered Asiatic Cheetah, which can now only be found in Iran.
What do you make of this incident? Have you ever flown with Meraj Airlines? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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