Kaarina Barron, 55, and Clare Chambers witnessed a terrifying collision on the tarmac at Attaturk Airport in Istanbul, after arriving from Ercan International Airport on Turkish Airlines flight A321. The mother of two and her friend were in Istanbul to change flights en route to London.
The two were seated near the back of the plane when they were startled by a loud bang, as the plane’s tail was sliced off when it collided with another aircraft, an Asiana flight A330. The resulting crash resulted in several passengers being thrown into the air and people “falling about all over the place.”
“We’d just pulled into the parking bay. We hadn’t even been stationary for a minute and the engines were still going when there was this huge noise,” Barron said. “It sounded like a bomb going off and the whole plane seemed to tilt over.”
“I thought it was going to turn over. It leant to one side and then it sort of righted itself. All kinds of things were going through my mind at that point. I thought the plane had blown up,” she added. “It was really scary. For a moment I really thought ‘this is it, this is the end of my life’”.
The collision also resulted in extensive damage to the Turkish Airlines plane’s vertical stabiliser.
“There were a lot of people standing in the aisle, despite the seatbelt sign still being on. They all went flying. Everybody was falling about all over the place. It was totally surreal,” Barron said. “I looked out of the window and saw another plane had stopped right behind us. Then I saw the damage to its wing and I said “oh my God, we’ve been hit by another plane.’”
Soon after, the Aviation Fire and Rescue team arrived and sprayed the rear of the plane to prevent a fire from breaking out. Although the flight was fully booked, there were no serious injuries.
“It could have been a lot worse. We’re feeling very lucky,” Barron said. “The other plane was on its way to Seoul. Obviously everybody had to get off and that flight was cancelled.”
Barron and Chambers were returning from a girl’s vacation in Cyprus. “It was certainly an exhilarating end to our holiday. We went and ordered gin and tonics inside the airport to recover after that,” said Barron.
A spokesperson for Turkish Airlines lamented the incident, saying, “Turkish Airlines confirms that the Airbus A330 type aircraft of the South Korean airline, Asiana Airlines, hit the tail of Turkish Airlines' Airbus A321 while it was taxiing on Istanbul Atatürk International Airport in yesterday. There were no passengers and crew injured due to the incident, it just caused physical damage on both aircrafts.”
In the last twenty years, Asiana Airlines has had two fatal accidents, while Turkish Airlines has registered four fatal incidents. Neither airline is listed in the top 20 best or worst air carriers in the world. Turkish Airlines recently announced that it would expand its fleet by 230 planes until 2023, therefore, due to a shortage of pilots, they will launch a program to train 1,000 new pilots every year.