I’ve seen countless videos of drivers haphazardly losing control of their vehicles on snow-covered roads. Though, I’ve never seen a commercial airline pilot venture a massive freighter off a taxiway like an SUV on a sloped suburban driveway. That changed on Friday when a Boeing 747F plowed through ground equipment at O’Hare Airport in Chicago like street furniture.
Early Friday morning, a China Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-400F touched down in Chicago after taking off from Taipei, Taiwan and stopping in Anchorage, Alaska. While taxing to its assigned stand, the Boeing left the snowy taxiway and collided with several baggage carts. CCTV footage shows the left side of the aircraft wandering through ground equipment. An unidentified white object even gets lifted off the ground and sucked into engine No. 1.
Anything low enough to hit a cart on the left side of the Boeing was damaged in the incident. Videos posted on Twitter show that engines No. 1 and No. 2 and the outer door of the left landing gear were all damaged. The photos show that the damage is anything but minor. Thankfully, no one was injured.
While China Airlines has stated that it doesn’t yet know what exactly caused the incident, the snow certainly played its role. O’Hare saw over three inches of snow, with other parts of the city receiving over eight inches of snowfall. Two prominent and plausible theories have been circulation social media accounts of those in the aviation industry and familiar with O’Hare Airport. First, the flight crew simply slid their Boeing off the taxiway. Second, the ground crew didn’t clear snow off the taxiways sufficiently, and the flight crew couldn’t see the taxiway centerline.
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This massive Boeing 747-400F shows that no matter how large or powerful a vehicle may be, nothing can save you when a mistake in even as little as three inches of snow.