China Air cargo flight diverts due to typhoon, low fuel, lands at small asphalt runway at King Salmon

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A China Air cargo Boeing 777 diverted to the King Salmon Airport on Friday morning due to worsening weather conditions that battered Western Alaska. The Alaska Department of Transportation, which operates the airport, said the runway was barely wide enough for the plane to turn around and get positioned for refueling.

Floyd Wilson, the King Salmon Airport foreman, was able to assist the pilots in making sure the enormous aircraft’s rear tires didn’t stray from the paved surface, “which could have resulted in a sticky situation,” DOT said.

King Salmon is Bristol Bay Borough, about 284 miles southwest of Anchorage. The airport has a 2,713-meter and a 1,224-meter runway. Generally a cargo plane like the Triple 7, depending on weight, may need in the range of 3,540 meters for takeoff and 1,860 meters for landing.

27 COMMENTS

  1. If the Chinese pilots are reluctant – I know a guy here in Anchorage – former military and Fedex pilot – that can get that bird out of there.

  2. So- the chinese communist government rationing its airlines gas. It flew on a half tank? That’s a communist for you, rations and poor working conditions.

    • That foreman is an example of the good
      ol’ fashion american spirit and work ethic. If he had habit cutting corners that plane would ran out of tarmac because of the forman would had poor thinking skills due to laziness. Instead the pilots were met by an American appreciated his job to properly excute duties building his resilience to face what seems impossible without complaining the aircraft is too big like how a democrat would complain-hahaha, while crashing the airliner.

    • Can I beg you to please research prior to making such uneducated statement? China Airline is not a Chicomm operation? It is owned by operated by the Taiwanese (R.O.C.)? China Airline is often confused with Air China, which is indeed operated out of China (P.R.C.)

  3. On a triple? Pretty decent flying knowing that you need to put her down early and hit the brakes hard. That’s a lot of bird to handle. It sure beats the alternative.

    • China Airline is not operated by the Chicoms. For Christ sake, please research the airline before you make an uneducated statement as such. Alaska has way too many shallow thinkers and self-proclaimed political observers. No, China Airline is not operated by and from the People’s Republic of China. It is operated by the Taiwanese, a free country that Nixon betrayed at the UN. ROC was once one of the five of the security council nations until Nixon betrayed it for the Chicoms.

  4. United makes a regularly scheduled flight using a 777 between mainland and Maui (Kahului). The runway there is 6998’. AKN is 8901’. Then again the freighter might be heavier. Also AKN is often used as a alternate when south central is socked in and FAI is unavailable.

    Curious cause during that diversion it wasn’t quite a windy typhoon in south central alaska. There was dense fog in Anchorage bowl. Very dense during that timeframe.

  5. I was sitting in the king salmon airport once waiting for my wife’s plane to come in. She was in a small Cherokee that was coming up from Perryville. As she was on final approach, to F-16 pilots that were there because their planes had been grounded because of the weather we’re taking bets on which one of my wife’s planes wings would hit the ground first on landing. It was a major ice storm at the time and she came in okay and on board was a board member that we each knew. He was a native guy and he was as white as a ghost from the flight. Turns out they are trying to get into Port Heiden to pick up a passenger and take on fuel and they couldn’t get down because of zero zero visibility so they were circling above the storm for quite a while until they had to commit on doing something so they went out over the Bering sea which is a No-No on a single engine plane. They went about 20 miles north off the coast until they found a hole in the clouds and they spiraled down through the hole and through the storm until they got down to sea level and the plane leveled off and they came all the way back to Port Heiden just above the waves and came in and landed with visibility at less than a quarter mile and the wind blowing 40 knots across the runway. She definitely used up some black box points that day.

  6. The thing is things happen in the bush that would be termed as crazy in the real world. I’ve seen a twin Navajo take off from a taxiway because the snow was piled up so high on each side of the runway there was no room for error. I’ve seen a caravan with stuck landing gear loaded down with soda pop trying to come in and we all had to block the runway with our trucks and Hondas because his radio wasn’t working. He soon got the message and was pulling up hard and going down getting the soda pop airborne and his cargo hold and having it slammed down to cause enough vibration to get the stuck landing gear to come down. King Salmon has a big enough runway to land 747 on so I don’t think it was too much of a stretch for this plane to land there as well. Those big military jets used to land there all the time hauling cargo when the base was open

  7. “China Air Cargo” flies Boeing 757-200F.

    The plane in the picture has “China Cargo Airlines” markings, and it could be either a newer 777 200F, or an older passenger 777 conversion to 777 200CF. The auxiliary power unit is placed correctly for a new model.

    “China Airlines” is out of Taiwan. It has the largest (18) 747F fleet in the world, and several 777 200F.

      • Not finding fault with anyone, China’s air transport system is a chameleon. So many mergers and such. Doubt if DOT has time for such minor details.

        In 1998, China Eastern founded China Cargo Airlines in a joint venture with COSCO. They both carry the same tail markings. The hull markings in the Mandarin Chinese language may have been simplified on the F versions.

  8. The pilots showed some skills. CAL will probably need to charter some smaller planes to handle the cargo into ANC but that’s much better than losing a triple seven.

  9. King Salmon is plenty good for a “heavy” . The parking aprons maybe not. Cold Bay would be a better option, weather permitting, as it used to be used daily by 747 s, back in the day. The real problem is going to be finding enough fuel these days. But one of the reasons that a two engine plane such as the 777 was authorized to fly over the water was based on the fact that there are alternate airports in our state that could handle them in case of emergencies. Not often needed, but again who has enough fuel when it happens? Don’t blame the pilots, they did what they were trained to do. The FAA said it would be no problem, and that is why they are alternate airports.

  10. A wide body heavy jet enroute from Asia to Anchorage is going to be quite light on fuel by the time it reaches King Salmon. This airport with a main runway 8,900 feet X 150 is not even a serious challenge for this airplane at this weight. I have operated B-747’s into and out of shorter runways and did not have the luxury of sea level and cool temperatures. As previously mentioned, Cold Bay a better option but King Salmon absolutely adequate…. in the hands of a competent crew. This airplane came out of mainland China, not to be confused with China Airlines a “Dynasty” flight out of Taipei Taiwan. I operated many Dynasty flights while in the employ of Atlas Air on contract to China Airlines.

    • Back in the 70’s flying into Wrangell, as a passenger on a 727, looking out a window, the runway looked about as big as a postage stamp.
      Flying a 727 into Annette Island, SE Alaska, then on a Goose to Ketchikan was an adventure for me, back in the 70’s.
      Having to fly to get to half of Alaska is one of the things I love.

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