An Air China Airbus A330-300 was severely damaged by a cargo hold fire at Beijing Capital International Airport Aug. 27 as passengers were boarding for a flight to Tokyo Haneda.

When smoke appeared from the forward cargo hold, the crew immediately ordered passengers to evacuate the aircraft, Air China said.

The crew members also implemented fire extinguishing procedures, the company said. Despite their efforts, the fire was serious enough to emit black smoke thick enough to obscure part of the airport’s Terminal 3, where the A330 was standing, photographs posted on social media show.

Smoke also emerged from the rear fuselage.

The fire appears to have burned through the top of the fuselage just ahead of the wing and just behind the forward doors. 

The cause is under investigation, Air China said.

The aircraft, registered as B-5958 and equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, was delivered in 2014.

Bradley Perrett, perrett@aviationweek.com

Research by Ryan Wang