The engine cover of an aircraft of the national carrier with more than 150 passengers fell off on the runway just as the plane was taking off at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Although officials described the incident, which occurred on Sunday, as a scare, they agreed that it was a reflection of poor aircraft maintenance by Air India. Proper check up of aircraft before take-off is mandatory.
The A-321 aircraft was bought barely six months ago and though it was making an unscheduled flight to Srinagar on Sunday, it is used to fly regular passengers too.
The aircraft had to return after taking off to reclaim its part. It was then promptly grounded, and the flight was cancelled.
“The engine cover came off but… no one was injured. An investigation into the incident is on,” an Air India spokesman said.
The alert pilot informed the air-traffic controllers about the part on the runway immediately. A similar incident had led to the 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde, in which 113 passengers were killed. A piece of metal left on the runway near Paris had punctured the aircraft’s tyres as it took off.
An industry expert described Sunday’s incident as potentially dangerous. “This shows poor maintenance and lack of attention of the airline’s engineering personnel. Such small incidents lead to bigger accidents,” he said.