Operation Underway at Montpellier Airport to Recover Damaged B737

A West Atlantic B737 nose down in a lake after overrunning the runway at Montpellier Airport.
Photo Credit: Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation civile (BEA)

LONDON – The recovery operation to remove a damaged Boeing B737-400F freighter aircraft which overran Montpellier Airport’s RWY 12L yesterday morning is now underway.

The aircraft, registered EC-NLS (msn 25856), had overrun the overshoot area at the end of Runway 12L while landing at Montpellier Airport in the early hours of Saturday morning, and come to rest in a lake area.

The aircraft, a Swiftair Boeing 737-400F freighter aircraft operated for West Atlantic, had been designated as Flight SW5745 from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Montpellier Airport (MPL).

The Hérault regional news source Midi Libre Montpellier, has carried footage of earthmoving equipment preparing for the recovery of the freighter aircraft which remains nose down in a lake after overrunning the runway overshoot area.

In a discussion with the Montpellier Airport manager, Midi Libre reported that the lifting operation, which will involve a crane and lifting gear will take place this afternoon local time.

The extraction of the aircraft is expected to take approximately two to three hours, and will involve raising the nose of the aircraft from its partially submerged position with a crane. The aircraft will then be towed to the airport’s cargo area.

Inbound and outbound air traffic to the southern France airport has been disrupted since yesterday, however the airport management is confident that the recovery operation will go as planned to permit the re-opening of the airport to traffic.

It was estimated that more than forty flights, moving up to 8,000 passengers would have been the expected throughflow for Sunday.

In their last statement yesterday, the Hérault prefecture confirmed that the French Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA) had recovered the aircraft flight recorders and were carrying out an investigation into the cause of the runway excursion incident.

A crisis unit has also been activated at the airport. After examining several options, it was decided to transport heavy lifting equipment to the site in order to move the aircraft in optimal safety conditions.

The complex recovery will be initiated under the control of experts appointed by the airline. It is understood that this is the first instance of such an incident at the airport.

Current flight cancellations


As at 2.50pm local time, Montpellier Airport still shows a list of cancelled departures.

UPDATE 25/09 1800 UTC

With a crane and lifting equipment, the Boeing has been removed from the lake.

Photo Credits: Aéroport Montpellie

Update 26/09 10:45 UTC

The aircraft has now successfully been recovered and moved away on trucks to a safe location.

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