A-I aircraft escapes another disaster | india | Hindustan Times
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A-I aircraft escapes another disaster

'Sunderban', heading for Frankfurt, landed on bare rims after two of its 24 tyres busted, reports CP Chauhan.

india Updated: Apr 02, 2006 01:23 IST

The Air India (AI) aircraft, Boeing 747-400 — commonly referred as Sunderban — made its third emergency landing in 100 days, due to a tyre burst at the Mumbai airport on Saturday.

Carrying 284 passengers and 20 crewmembers, Sunderban, which was heading for Frankfurt-Los Angles, landed on bare rims after two of its 24 tyres busted and the entire rubber was ripped off. This is the second such landing for Sunderban in the past fortnight.

Exactly like the Saturday’s incident, it had made another emergency landing on March 13 at the Mumbai airport after one of its tyres burst, shortly after take-off from Delhi airport with 270 people aboard, including 15 crewmembers.

On December 22, the same aircraft had thrown the entire Los Angeles International Airport out of gear for over an hour to accommodate its safe landing after it blew one of its tires while takeoff. During these emergencies it had to dump several lakh kilos of fuel over different oceans before landing. AI spokesman, Jitender Bhargava said, “We are looking into it. The engineers will check the problem and the aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, will also be consulted on this technical problem.”

According to sources, Sunderban is one of the oldest aircraft in AI fleet and have many problems in its landing gear. “Majority of the aircrafts leased by AI is mere junk. They are several years old like the Sunderban, which is over 15 years. Many of these could not be rated airworthy as they face several engineering problems,” said a senior AI official.

Soon after the aircraft left the Delhi airport it was diverted to Mumbai at about 12.30 a.m. For the next one hour the aircraft, which had five hours of fuel stored in its tanks, hovered around the south-west Arabian Sea and dumped the extra fuel. At about 1:30 p.m. ‘Full Emergency’ was declared at the Mumbai airport and all the disaster services pressed into service. However, none of the 284-passengers reported any problem like fainting or anxiety, which are common during such emergency landings.