© Nikolay Antonov

Atlas Air has suffered its third aircraft ‘incident’ this month, causing Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to close a runway and delaying some 186 flights this morning. The airport managed to re-open its dual-runway operation at 3.45pm local time.

An Atlas 747-400F, on route from Hong Kong to Chicago, via Anchorage, suffered a hydraulic failure near Taiwan. The crew decided to return to Hong Kong and landed two hours later.

However, the aircraft burst “a number of tyres” on landing, according to Aviation Herald, becoming disabled and unable to be moved for several hours due to the hydraulic problem.

HKIA confirmed there were no injuries. However, it noted that following the aircraft’s original take-off at 4.10am, it received reports of suspected tyre fragments on the south runway and moved operations to the north runway.

Hactl, the main cargo handler at Hong Kong, confirmed it was operating normally.

The airport authority said it was “highly concerned about the incident and will require the airline to submit a report to AAHK and the Civil Aviation Department as mandated by set procedures”.

This is the third significant incident involving Atlas Air in just over two weeks – and its sixth this year. Two aircraft are currently on the ground.

Last Tuesday, an Atlas 747-400F, on a Seoul-Anchorage-Guadalajara rotation, suffered a hydraulic failure after takeoff as it climbed to 10,000 feet. It dumped fuel before returning to Seoul. The treads of two tyres had separated, cutting a hydraulic line, and on landing, a third tyre burst, reported Aviation Herald.

Just nine days earlier, the same aircraft landed in Los Angeles with a damaged left body gear tyre, and remained on the ground for some nine hours before departing for Mexico City.

Atlas had two incidents in January: a 747-8F suffered an engine fire after taking off from Miami; and the right-hand engine of a 747-8F hit the runway on landing at Anchorage. An Atlas 777 was struck by hail in Hong Kong in at the end of April, resulting in damage.

Atlas Air has 51 747s in service and seven parked, and six 777s, with one parked. Its 747s have an average age of 21 years, while its 777s are just six years old.

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