iconimg Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Lalatendu Mishra
Mumbai, November 02, 2006
Once they were magnificent flying machines but today, they lie out in the open, their battered and bruised state giving no indication of their glory days. For two such aircraft that remained parked on a piece of tarmac away from the main runway for almost a decade, there comes a fresh breather of life. Not that they can fly again but the two Fokker 27 planes, originally owned by the defunct East West Airways, have been bought by aeronautical institutions for educational purposes.

The two planes were recently auctioned by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to recover some of the dues it was owed by way of parking and landing charges. Their new owners landed at the airport on Thursday evening.

There were heavy cranes and trailer-trucks in tow to transport the near-junk machines by road to their new destination - one to New Delhi and the other to Pune. The shifting operation will continue over two days, as the procedure is quite complex.

While one aircraft with registration number VT-EWK has been bagged by Delhi-based School of Engineering and Technology, the other VT-EGK has gone to the Pune-based Indian Institute of Aeronautical Engineering. Both have purchased the 70-seater aircraft from AAI, bidding the highest.

Two heavy-duty "boom" cranes of 80 feet and 60 feet respectively, moved into the airport for 'Operation Dismantle'. First, the wings of the decrypt aircraft will be clipped and loaded on to the 90-feet-long low-bed trailers. Then, the fuselage will be lifted and placed on the trailers.

But, first, the authorities will have to remove a Boeing 737 of Skyline NEPC that is parked in front of the two Fokkers.

"We have given permission for shifting and it will be undertaken from midnight. Concerned officials have been entrusted with the responsibility of handling the shifting operation with care, keeping the flight movements in mind," said a Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) spokesperson.

Apart from these two planes, another five aircraft struck in a legal quagmire continue to stand near the ATC tower. These include a Fokker 27 belonging to Continental Airways, a Dakota DC-9 of Kalinga Air, a Boeing 737 of Skyline NEPC, a Fokker-27 of Elbee Couriers and a Dornier aircraft that was confiscated in the infamous Purulia arms drop case.

Since legal cases involving these aircraft and their companies are at various stages, the planes have been weathering it out on the apron.

Apart from these, a Boeing 737 aircraft of Air Sahara, which had sustained heavy damage after skidding off the runway last year and declared scrap by the insurers, and two decommissioned Boeing 747 aircraft of Air India are lying, awaiting their future masters.

Email Lalatendu Mishra: lalatendu.mishra@hindustantimes.com