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Air India Express flight hits wall at Tiruchi airport, all passengers safe
In the wee hours of Friday, 136 passengers and six crew members on board a Dubai-bound Air India Express plane (IX611) were left shell-shocked when the flight, barrelling down the Tiruchy airport runway at speeds topping 200 km an hour, hit a compound wall and some antennas during take off but proceeded on its journey before being diverted to and landing in a badly damaged condition in Mumbai.
All on board were miraculously safe though the tyre of the plane hit equipment used to guide a pilot to land and then brushed the compound wall at the Tiruchirappalli International Airport around 1.20 am. The plane landed at 5.35 am in Mumbai after flying for four hours.
The passengers were petrified as the aircraft juddered and shook when the pilot tried to lift off after the tyre brushed the wall, airport officials said. Air Traffic Control (ATC) officials witnessed the accident on CCTV even as anxiety peaked among the passengers on what actually had happened. Adding to the worry, ATC officials could not contact the pilot for some time as the signal had conked off.
Officials said the pilot, Captain D Ganesh Babu, who has a flying experience of 3,600 hours on the B737 aircraft, including about 500 hours as commander, was soon contacted by the ATC officials though he said there was no problem with the aircraft and expressed his willingness to carry on with the journey. As the pilot continued to operate the plane, the passengers entered into a heated exchange with the crew. Airport officials later informed their counterparts in Dubai about the accident and told them there was no major damage to the plane. However, Dubai airport officials refused to allow the landing as it was risky.
The officials said the 50-ft wall and the barbed wire fence at the airport were damaged in the impact. The monitoring antenna and the ILS (Instrument Landing System) of the plane were damaged in the incident.
Officials said parts of the wall fencing that were dragged along with the aircraft from Tiruchy were removed only in Mumbai. The passengers were sent to Dubai in another aircraft brought from Thiruvananthapuram. The pilots have been “derostered” pending investigation, AI Express said in a statement.
Flight plan goes awry
- Air India flight No. IX611 bound for Dubai takes off from Tiruchy airport at 1.18 am
- Hits compound wall and antennas but continues on its journey
- Airport officials inform Dubai airport authorities, who refuse to let the plane land
- IX611 diverted to Mumbai and lands at 5.35 am