Two Avianca aircraft have been involved in separate incidents at Pasto airport in Colombia. The two incidences occurred just one day apart on the 27th and 28th of October. In a strange reflection of each other, both involved an Airbus A320-200. One had a problem taking off from the airport while the other sustained damage when landing.
On October 27th, an Avianca Airbus A320-200, registration N281AV, was preparing to land at Pasto airport, completing a Bogota flight. The aircraft performed a hard touchdown causing the pilot to increase the engine thrust and climb again before coming around for a second landing. The initial attempt occurred on runway 02, while the successful attempt occurring in the reverse direction of runway 20. The plane landed the second time safely around 25 minutes after the first attempt. The return flight to Bogota departed on time.
The second incident
One day later, another Avianca Airbus A320-200 registered N284AV was preparing to leave Pasto airport to operate flight AV-8598 to Bogota when it received damage while taxing. According to the incident report on The Aviation Herald, the plane was rotating to prepare for take-off when it received damage to its right-hand horizontal stabilizer.
The common factor
In a bizarre twist of fate, both incidences involved and Avianca Airbus 230-300, and both incidences occurred at the same airport and, importantly, on the same runway. In fact, the runway may be the reason both aircraft experiences some problems. According to reports, the asphalt on runway 02/20 is disintegrating and breaking up.
The hard landing of the first aircraft may have loosened some of the already damaged asphalt. The damage sustained by the second aircraft came from loose asphalt, which hit the aircraft at speed. Although, as the incidences didn’t occur in the same spot, it is unlikely it was the same section of asphalt.
According to the NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen), the runway is periodically closed between 19:00 and 11:00 UTC for repairs; the work started on September 9th and is ongoing until December 8th.
However, the runway was officially open for both aircraft. Perhaps the airport should speed up the repairs.
After experiencing the hard landing, the plane managed to land safely and make the return flight to Bogota. The plane then continued to Cartagena in Colombia before damage was found. Once the damage had been found, the plane was grounded for around 38 hours before it safely returned to service.
The second aircraft, which sustained heavy damage from loose asphalt, has remained grounded for repairs. Almost two days later, the plane is still unfit to fly. No doubt, with two incidences happening within such a short space of time, the airport and Avianca will have to think about the state of the runway.
The Pasto airport runway is built on a tabletop and is often referred to as similar to landing on an aircraft carrier due to the short length. The 7,585ft (2,312m) runway means only a few planes can land there, such as turboprops, the A320, Boeing 737, and 727. Add the dangerous crosswinds caused by the surrounding terrain, and Pasto becomes one of the most difficult airports to land at. A feat made no easy when the runway is disintegrating beneath the plane.