A small aircraft skidded off the taxiway in a freak accident during a routine maintenance check at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport on Tuesday. There were no passengers in the aircraft at that time.
The aircraft belongs to AR Airways Private Limited, a non-scheduled operator. At 3.54pm, when the incident took place, the plane was undergoing maintenance at an isolated taxiway. “The aircraft was at a high power run to evaluate its engine performance,” said an airport source.
“Some new parts had been fitted into the aircraft, which is why it was being tested. During the manoeuvre, the plane took a turn. Suddenly its nose wheel collapsed and it skidded into a kachcha road next to the runway,” the source added.
The plane’s front portion fell on the tarmac as its nose wheel collapsed. The incident has left the Cessna Citation 560XL aircraft, with registration number VT-ARA, badly damaged. The 5,000-kg aircraft can seat up to eight passengers.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is probing the incident. It is trying to find out whether the problem lay with the aircraft or the surface of the taxiway. The company which operates chartered flights and owns the aircraft, has a total fleet of seven aircraft.
Despite repeated attempts to contact it at its Mehram Nagar office number, the company refused to officially comment on the issue. “The aircraft was undergoing maintenance and was not taxiing. It just went a little bit outside the taxiway. There were no safety issues,” said an official of the company over the phone, who refused to identify himself.
“If the incident had happened with passengers on board, it may have severely compromised their safety. But thankfully, the aircraft was undergoing maintenance. Also, it was on an isolated taxiway, so the damaged aircraft did not hamper air traffic either,” an airport official said.