Two days after the Mangalore air crash, Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) went into a tizzy on Monday. The airport was on an emergency status for nearly three hours when tyre pieces were found on a runway immediately after a Srinagar-bound SpiceJet flight had taken off.
The aircraft had suffered a tyre burst during take off and had to return and make an emergency landing after it was called back by the ATC.
The SpiceJet Delhi-Srinagar flight (SG 224) had taken off at 12.50 pm on Monday with 186 passengers. A few minutes after it took off, the pilot of another aircraft noticed some tyre pieces on the runway and informed the Air Traffic Control (ATC).
The ATC contacted the SpiceJet flight pilot and asked him to come back.
“The pilot also said that some unusual vibrations were noticed during the take off,” said a senior ATC official. The ATC contacted the pilot on radio at 1.18 pm, by which time the aircraft had already covered over 100 miles.
Coming after the Mangalore air crash, the incident created a scare at IGIA and all the necessary procedures for an emergency landing were initiated. The airport was in full emergency until 3.35 pm when it was called off.
“In accordance with the set emergency procedures, Aircraft Crash Fire Tenders (ACFT) and ambulances were positioned along with the “Follow-me” vehicle to lead the aircraft till the parking stand after its landing and runway inspection,” said a spokesman of the private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd. (DIAL).
The aircraft returned and flew low over the runway so that ground engineers could look and assess the damage. The aircraft also hovered above the airport for sometime to burn up extra fuel as a safety measure. The aircraft made a safe landing on runway 11 at 2.36 pm.
“Keeping the safety of passengers in mind, the aircraft returned to Delhi as a precaution,” said a SpiceJet spokesman. The airline said all passengers and crew of the aircraft were safe.
The fragments found on the runway were of main wheel number 3 of the Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The aircraft was surrounded by fire tenders after it reached the parking bay and passengers disembarked.
The airline engineers started repairing the aircraft and the passengers were shifted to another aircraft which took off at 4.50 pm.
The flight finally landed at Srinagar at 6 pm.
“Tyre bursts are not uncommon and tyre fragments are routinely found on the runway. However, if more than one tyre of an aircraft bursts, the landing could become dangerous,” the ATC official said.