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Last updated: 24 March 2019
Date:Monday 20 August 2007
Type:Silhouette image of generic B738 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 737-809
Operator:China Airlines
Registration: B-18616
C/n / msn: 30175/1182
First flight: 2002
Total airframe hrs:13664
Engines: 2 CFMI CFM56-7B26
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 8
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 157
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 165
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Okinawa-Naha Airport (OKA) (   Japan)
Crash site elevation: 4 m (13 feet) amsl
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE/RCTP), Taiwan
Destination airport:Okinawa-Naha Airport (OKA/ROAH), Japan
Flightnumber: 120
China Airlines flight 120 departed Taipei at 08:14. It landed at Naha Airport (OKA) at 10:27 and taxied to the apron. Reaching the stand, ground engineers saw fuel gushing from an area near the no. 2 engine pylon. The pilot shut off the fuel supply to the engines after he was alerted by the ground engineer about the leak. Fuel from the leak flowed beneath the aircraft towards the no. 1 engine. The fuel ignited and the fire engulfed the airplane.
When all occupants had evacuated, a large explosion occurred in the centre of the airplane. The airplane burned out completely.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "It is considered highly probable that this accident occurred through the following causal chain: When the Aircraft retracted the slats after landing at Naha Airport, the track can that housed the inboard main track of the No. 5 slat on the right wing was punctured, creating a hole. Fuel leaked out through the hole, reaching the outside of the wing. A fire started when the leaked fuel came into contact with high-temperature areas on the right engine after the Aircraft stopped in its assigned spot, and the Aircraft burned out after several explosions.
With regard to the cause of the puncture in the track can, it is certain that the downstop assembly having detached from the aft end of the above-mentioned inboard main track fell off into the track can, and when the slat was retracted, the assembly was pressed by the track against the track can and punctured it.
With regard to the cause of the detachment of the downstop assembly, it is considered highly probable that during the maintenance works for preventing the nut from loosening, which the Company carried out on the downstop assembly about one and a half months prior to the accident based on the Service Letter from the manufacturer of the Aircraft, the washer on the nut side of the assembly fell off, following which the downstop on the nut side of the assembly fell off and then the downstop assembly eventually fell off the track. It is considered highly probable that a factor contributing to the detachment of the downstop assembly was the design of the downstop assembly, which was unable to prevent the assembly from falling off if the washer is not installed.
With regard to the detachment of the washer, it is considered probable that the following factors contributed to this: Despite the fact that the nut was in a location difficult to access during the maintenance works, neither the manufacturer of the Aircraft nor the Company had paid sufficient attention to this when preparing the Service Letter and Engineering Order job card, respectively. Also, neither the maintenance operator nor the job supervisor reported the difficulty of the job to the one who had ordered the job."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: JTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years
Accident number: AA2009-7
Download report: Final report


» SKYbrary 
» China Airlines plane goes up in flames at Naha airport; nobody hurt (Japan Today, 20-8-2007)
» Jet fuel gushed from plane on landing (Asahi Shimbun, 22-8-2007)
» Investigators find hole in fuel tank of plane that exploded in Japan airport (AP, 23-8-2007)

Follow-up / safety actions

FAA issued 1 Airworthiness Directive
FAA issued 2 Emergency Airworthiness Directives
JTSB issued 2 Safety Recommendations

Show all...


photo of Boeing 737-809 B-18616
photo of Boeing 737-809 B-18616
photo of Boeing 737-809 B-18616
photo of Boeing 737-809 B-18616
photo of Boeing 737-809 B-18616
photo of Boeing 737-809 B-18616
photo of Boeing 737-809 B-18616
photo of Boeing 737-809 B-18616
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This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to Okinawa-Naha Airport as the crow flies is 651 km (407 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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