A closeup shows the damaged jetliner’s port (left engine) after an aerobridge pierced into it. -NSTP

KUALA LUMPUR: An oversight by operational crew resulted in an aerobridge ‘piercing’ into a jetliner’s port (left) engine at Miri Airport, Sarawak.

The incident, believed to have taken place on Monday, is said to involve a parked Airbus A320, which had just landed from Kota Kinabalu en route to Singapore.

It had caused substantial damage to both the jetliner’s engine casing and the underside of the aerobridge.

Several New Straits Times readers reported that the crew member had misjudged the height of the jetliner’s engine, as he remotely manoeuvred the aerobridge to dock with the fuselage where the cabin door is opened.

“The crew had miscalculated the docking at a lower height, thus, causing the aerobridge’s underside to ‘pierce’ into the jetliner’s engine.

“The damage resulted in the jetliner being declared unfit for flight operations, pending an inquiry and repairs,” said an airline industry official.

The NST learnt that a board of inquiry has been established to determine the cause of the incident, as they are baffled how the aerobridge’s guiding-sensor or a ground marshal failed to undertake preventive measures.

The NST was reliably informed that the aircraft was also improperly parked slightly off its markers at the bay, thus, aggravating the situation.

“However, the airline’s management managed to handle the situation in a professional manner, without any further delay to passengers’ disembarkation or for them to catch a connecting ‘recovery’ flight,” said another source.

On March 23 this year, a homebound Singapore Airlines flight from Newark Airport in New Jersey, the United States was cancelled after the aircraft’s port engine reportedly came into contact with an aerobridge.

Flight SQ22, which arrived in Newark, was parked at the airport's designated parking bay when the incident took place as passengers prepared to disembark.

There were 150 passengers and 17 crew members on board the aircraft, all of whom later managed to disembark safely. The aircraft was then grounded for repairs. The return flight SQ21, originally scheduled to depart Newark on the same day with 141 passengers, was cancelled.

Since March 2017, low-cost carriers like AirAsia Bhd and AirAsia X Bhd decided to utilise aerobridges in the new hybrid klia2 for passengers and crew disembarkation and embarkation.

klia2, which officially opened on May 2, 2017, has 80 aerobridges servicing 60 gates in the terminal.

The AirAsia Group would have involved some 550 daily airline movements at klia2.

Many airports worldwide have made it mandatory for airlines to use aerobridges to enhance passenger convenience, safety and security, especially during inclement weather.

Without aerobridges, aircraft would have to be parked in a remote position for passengers and crew to be ferried by buses to the terminal.