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B738, vicinity Chuuk Micronesia, 2018

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On 28 September 2018, a Boeing 737-800 failed to complete its intended approach to land at Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia and impacted the sea surface short of the runway in day VMC. All but one of the occupants were able to evacuate the aircraft before it sank. An Investigation is in progress to determine the circumstances which led to the accident.
Event Details
When September 2018
Actual or Potential
Event Type
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT)
Day/Night Day
Flight Conditions VMC
Flight Details
Aircraft BOEING 737-800
Operator Air Niugini
Domicile Papua New Guinea
Type of Flight Public Transport (Passenger)
Origin Pohnpei International Airport
Intended Destination PTKK
Take off Commenced Yes
Flight Airborne Yes
Flight Completed No
Flight Phase Landing
Location - Airport
Airport vicinity PTKK
Tag(s) Copilot less than 500 hours on Type
Tag(s) Into water,
Undershoot on Landing
Damage or injury Yes
Aircraft damage Hull loss
Injuries Few occupants
Fatalities Few occupants (1)
Investigation Type
Type Independent


On 28 September 2018, a Boeing 737-800 (P2-PXE) being operated by Air Niugini on a domestic passenger flight from Pohnpei to Chuuk International Airport impacted the sea 460 metres prior to the threshold of the intended destination landing runway 04 in day VMC. All but one of the 47 occupants (35 passengers and 12 crew) exited the aircraft before it sank and were promptly rescued. The body of the passenger who did not exit the aircraft was subsequently recovered from the wreckage; six of the surviving passengers sustained serious injuries. The Investigation is ongoing.


An Investigation is being carried out by the Division of Civil Aviation of the Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure (DTC&I) of the Federated States of Micronesia with assistance from the Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission (AIC) in accordance with the principles of ICAO Annex 13. The aircraft 2 hour SSCVR and the SSFDR were recovered by divers and their data were subsequently successfully downloaded. Divers also recovered other equipment with potentially useful NVM data including the Automatic Flight Information Recording System (AFIRS), the FMC and EGPWS. The latter two have been sent to their manufacturer, where data recovery will be attempted under the supervision of the NTSB. The AFIRS unit was sent to the Canadian TSB who will supervise the retrieval of its data at the Canadian manufacturer’s facility and/or at the TSB.

The final floating position of the aircraft relative to the intended landing runway. [Reproduced from the Official Report]

It was noted that at impact, the main landing gear had detached from the aircraft and its rear fuselage behind the wing had fractured. Soon afterward, the aircraft sank 90 feet to the seabed of the Chuuk Lagoon. It was established that the single passenger fatality and all the serious injuries had sustained involved passengers seated in rows 18-23 toward the rear of the aircraft.

It was noted that the aircraft was conducting an approach to runway 04 at Chuuk when it entered the water and after settling on the surface it had turned clockwise through 210 degrees and drifted 140 metres to a position south east of the runway extended centreline. After it subsequently sank, it came to rest on the seabed with the nose of the aircraft oriented toward approximately 265° - see the illustration above.

The flight crew involved have been identified as a 52-year-old Papuan Captain with 19,780 hours total flying experience, which included 2,276 in command on type, and a 35-year-old Australian First Officer with 4,618 hours total flying experience which included 368 hours on type.

A Preliminary Report upon which this summary is based was issued on 26 October 2018.