142 have close shave as four tyres of Jammu-bound flight burst on landing
All passengers were evacuated soon and are safe.india Updated: Jun 10, 2017 12:34 IST
Passengers on board a Jammu-bound Air India flight from Delhi had a narrow escape after a major tragedy was averted when four tyres of their flight burst while landing in Jammu, on Friday.
The flight, Air India 321, had 134 passengers and nine crew members on board. All of them were unhurt and evacuated soon after the accident, that occurred at around 12.15pm.
All flights to Jammu were cancelled for an indefinite period as the aircraft was stuck on the runway, making it impossible for other fights to land and take off. The air force has been pressed into service.
Director of Jammu airport DK Gautam said, “The aircraft landed safely despite the multiple tyre bursts. No passenger was hurt in the accident.”
He said the priority is to remove the aircraft from the runway. “I am sure normal operations will resume by Saturday. There is no damage to the runway,” he said.
Pilot exhibited presence of mind
Sources say a major tragedy was averted as the pilot exhibited presence of mind. After the tyres burst on making contact with the ground, the pilot reportedly diverted it on an unmetalled path (kuccha road). This jammed the landing gear. Had the plane continued on the concrete path, it would have collided with the airport’s boundary wall, causing widespread damage. The plane stopped barely about 6 metres short of the wall.
Air India was operating an Airbus Classic A320, which is due to be phased out in the next few months, according to an Air India official. Air India plans to retire all its Classic A320s by the end of this fiscal and has placed an order for 22 A320 Neos, out of which four planes have already been inducted by the airline.
Pilots in the past have termed this plane as “lethal and snag-prone” and had two years ago urged the aviation regulator DGCA to ground these planes in the interest of passenger safety.
Flights cancelled, passengers inconvenienced
A total of 19 flights were cancelled after the accident, inconveniencing the passengers.
Meheshwar Salve from Mumbai informed that they are a group of 20 and were to depart by a GoAir flight. However, the response from the airline and the airport authority has been disappointing, he said.
“The GoAir counter is closed and the staff is missing. While other airlines are issuing tickets for Saturday, there is no response from our airline,” he said. “The staff at Jammu airport is asking us to vacate the lounge. They should at least allow us to stay overnight so that we can make alternate arrangements.”
Vikas Sharma and his colleague were to board a flight for Chandigarh but were exploring others option. “Following the accident, bus fares have risen and taxi operators are charging inflated rates,” he said.
Another passenger Prashant Yadav who was returning with his family after the Vaishno Devi Yatra said they were scheduled to leave for Mumbai on Friday. “On reaching the airport we found that our fight has been cancelled. I have checked out of my hotel. I don’t know when I will be able to return as all flights are booked for the next 2-3 days,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)