Passengers on board Air India’s (AI) June 28 Bengaluru-Hyderabad flight (513) had a narrow escape as the pilot did a “touch and go” after bouncing on the runway during landing and seriously jeopardising flight safety, a retired Indian Air Force flight test engineer has said in a complaint to the airline.
Wing Commander Venkataramana Mantha (retd.), a Presidential award winner who has served as a flight test engineer flying fighter jets like Mirage 2000, Jaguar, MiG27 and transport planes like B737, said in his complaint that the captain could not control the rate of descent of the A319 at the Shamshabad airport and bounced heavily on the runway.
“The normal practice in such an eventuality would be to cushion the second bounce and somehow continue with the landing. But in this case the captain opened power and went around for another landing,” the complaint said.
“Any sensible A319 captain will strongly condemn this poor airmanship of trying to do this inadvertent touch and go with so many passengers onboard,” the complaint added.
“The flaps are down in the landing condition and the speed is absolutely low because you have touched down. We managed to escape as there were hardly 40-45 passengers on board. Had there been 130-140 passengers, the aircraft would have dropped like a stone from a height of 200 feet and we would have had a crash on the runway. The aircraft just about managed to climb out,” Mantha told HT.
The fall, Mantha said, after the first bounce from a height of 8-10 feet “was better than falling from 150-200 feet. I can’t tell what tension I went through as the aircraft took off again,” he said.
As luck would have it, Mantha said on his return flight on June 29, the same captain was in command.
“At Bengaluru he made another horrendous landing with the aircraft almost bouncing again,” he said.
AI did not offer comments for the story despite mails, messages and calls from HT over the last two days.