NEW DELHI: An Air India Express Boeing 737 plane with 136 people on board was damaged when it hit the boundary wall of the Tiruchi airport while taking off before it landed safely in Mumbai after being in air for around four hours on Friday.
Following the incident, the pilots commanding the Boeing, Captain D Ganesh Babu and the First Officer, Captain Anurag have been grounded for an investigation. The airline said in a statement that all passengers were safe.
The undercarriage of the plane hit the antennae of the Instrument Landing System, that guides aircraft to runway centreline during landing, and the wheels hit the boundary wall of Trichy airport.
“The plane took off at 1.19 a.m., it hit the perimeter wall at 1.21 a.m., and at 1.22 a.m. the Air Traffic Control informed the pilots. The pilots had, however, reported that all functions were normal and the flight continued on its journey”, Airport Director K. Gunasekaran said.
The flight was then approaching Muscat when it was redirected to Mumbai, after the officials inspected the accident spot and realized of significant damage to the aircraft after finding aircraft debris.
A navigator who sought anonymity told IANS: “On the runway there are markings including the lift-off mark. By the time the aircraft reaches that mark, it would have gained the necessary speed and power to take off safely.
“By the time the plane crosses the compound wall, it would have gained about a height of 300-500 feet.”
He added: “This plane could have been overloaded. Hence it was not able to gain sufficient speed and power to gain sufficient height after lifting off at the takeoff mark on the runway. The airfield temperature is also a factor.”
The other reason could be that the aircraft’s engines did not generate sufficient power to touch the required speed to take off and gain the needed height, he said.
Concurring, a pilot and a member of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) told IANS: “Overloading could be a reason.”
Experts said there was a maximum take off load including the fuel. Instead of burning the fuel over Trichy, it would have been better to fly to a destination where the repair facilities were there.
In May 2010, 158 people lost their lives when an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 from Dubai with 166 people onboard, over ran the runway while landing at Mangalore airport.
On April 26, 1993, 55 people on board an Indian Airlines plane were killed in Aurangabad in Maharashtra when it crashed on take-off after apparently hitting a truck carrying cotton bales.