In another air incident that gave a scare, a Srinagar-bound SpiceJet plane with 186 passengers on board had a tyre-burst on Monday during take-off but safely landed under emergency conditions after it returned to New Delhi.
The IGI Airport here was put on a "full emergency" after the pilot of the Boeing 737-800 was asked to return by the Air Traffic Control (ATC) on being alerted about the tyre-burst when some rubber debris was spotted on the runway after the plane had taken off.
An aircraft of the same type belonging to Air India's low budget carrier had crashed in Mangalore leaving 158 persons dead on Saturday after the pilot overshot the runway.
In today's incident, the plane was airborne for 15 minutes and had flown nearly 160 km before the pilot turned around.
The aircraft landed back in Delhi safely and all passengers are safe, an airline spokesperson said.
A pilot of another aircraft, which landed soon after the SpiceJet flight SG-224 took off at 1430 hrs, had noticed pieces of tyres on the runway and informed the ATC, which swung into action and asked the cockpit crew of the low-cost carrier plane to return. The plane's departure was a couple of hours behind schedule.
A full emergency was declared at the IGI Airport when the aircraft made a precautionary landing at around 1450 hours, airport sources said.
As fire brigade personnel, ambulances, engineering teams and other services remained positioned, the aircraft was first asked by the ATC to fly low over the runway for a visual inspection of the tyre as part of standard operating procedures.
Airport engineers then noticed a burst tyre on the right side of the aircraft and asked the pilots to try a smooth sail landing.
"Keeping the safety of passengers in mind, as a precaution, the aircraft returned to Delhi. We followed all procedures for landing in such situations," the spokesperson said.
According to aviation experts, high temperatures in the landing gear could be one of the factors that may have led to the tyre burst. Temparatures at Palam airport hovered around 45 degrees Celsius today.
A SpiceJet spokesman said the passengers would be accomodated in other flights of the airline and other air carriers.
Airport officials and emergency team personnel, who monitored the aircraft as it touched down, heaved a sign of relief when the aircraft made a safe landing despite having a burst tyre.