A fully laden Maldivian Dash was evacuated on the runway in the Maldives just before takeoff on Tuesday after the right-hand windshield burst into flames, shattering the windshield. The 35 passengers and crew on the flight evacuated safely.
Cockpit fire incident cracks the Dash 8’s windshield
According to The Aviation Herald, the Maldivian de Havilland Dash eight-200 was operating a scheduled flight from Hanimaadhoo to Male on Tuesday evening when the incident occurred. The flight, Q2-247, is the daily 19:45 service from Hanimaadhoo down to the Malé capital. Flying time between the two airports is approximately 45 minutes.
The Aviation Herald says the Dash 8 had taxied down to the end of runway 21 at Hanimaadhoo and turned to ready for takeoff when the right-hand windshield burst into flames and the windshield shattered.
“While on the runway preparing for takeoff from HAQ, a fire incident occurred, and windshield of co-pilot side was cracked. An immediate evacuation was done on the runway. HAQ airport Fire and rescue services attended to aircraft immediately. All 35 passengers and crew onboard evacuated immediately,” a statement from Maldivian reads.
Unclear which Maldivian Dash 8 was involved in Tuesday’s incident
The aircraft involved in the incident was not immediately identified. As The Aviation Herald notes, Maldivian only operates two Dash 8-200s. Most flight tracking websites show normal operations for flight Q2-247 on Tuesday.
However, FlightRadar24.com indicates the 19:45 service did not operate normally, and a replacement aircraft operated a delayed service departing Hanimaadhoo shortly after midnight on Wednesday, January 19. FlightRadar24.com reveals that the replacement aircraft was 8Q-IAQ. Maldivian’s other Dash 8-200 is 8Q-AMD.
Both Maldivian’s Dash 8-200s are more than two decades old. 8Q-AMD is 25.6 years old. The plane has spent its entire flying life in the Maldives. A search of The Aviation Herald incident database suggests this is the plane’s first incident of note.
Replacement aircraft lined up for aging Maldivian Dash 8s
Government-owned Maldivian operates four aircraft types, including a sole Airbus A320-200 and a De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplane. The bulk of Maldivian’s fleet comprises Dash 8 aircraft. Aircraft database Planespotters.net indicates in addition to the two Dash 8-200s, Maldivian also operates eight larger Dash 8-300s.
In addition to flights Bangkok, Dhaka, and a handful of destinations in India, Maldivian’s Dash 8s and Twin Otter connect 17 destinations across the Maldives. Like most countries that are a series of islands, Maldivian residents depend heavily on the airline for essential connectivity.
On the same day as the incident at Hanimaadhoo, Maldivian had announced it was acquiring two ATR 72-600s and one ATR 42-600 to start replacing the aging Dash 8 fleet. The first ATRs are due for delivery later this year.
On Tuesday, the airline said it was teaming up with ATR to contribute to the economic development of the Maldives. They say the new ATRs will complement the Government of Maldives’ air connectivity policy and allow Maldivian to offer improved connectivity across the country.