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Passenger jet hits equipment on takeoff from Belgrade airport, makes emergency return


BELGRADE, Serbia — A passenger jet with 106 people on board returned safely to the Belgrade airport after it hit runway equipment and sustained severe damage shortly after takeoff from the Serbian capital, media and airline blogs reported Monday. There were no injuries.

The Embraer E-195 was on route to Dusseldorf in Germany on Sunday afternoon. The aircraft belongs to Greek charter company Marathon Airlines, which is currently operating several aircraft on behalf of Serbian national carrier, AirSerbia, on long-term basis.

Live tracker Flightradar24 said the flight JU324 lined up at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport on one of the intersecting taxiways more than halfway down the runway, indicating it did not have enough distance for a safe takeoff.

During its departure, the aircraft’s left side was badly damaged when it struck the opposing runway’s instrument landing system array, located not far from a busy highway.

Video footage and photos of the damaged aircraft show a large gaping hole and tear on the fuselage at the base of the left wing. The tail section was also damaged. Firefighters sprayed the fuselage with foam as fuel appeared to be leaking from the damaged aircraft.

After struggling to gain height, the aircraft shook as it entered a holding pattern for about an hour before returning to land safely at the Belgrade airport, Serbian media said, quoting passengers. The passengers were escorted off the aircraft. They were told by AirSerbia that the flight returned because of technical reasons and that their lives were never in danger.

The airport was closed for a while on Sunday and incoming planes were diverted to other airports.



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