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Narrow escape for 229 AI passengers

india Updated: Sep 05, 2009 01:59 IST
Soubhik Mitra
Soubhik Mitra
Hindustan Times
Air India plane

An engine of an Air India aircraft that is to be phased out in October caught fire at the Mumbai airport on Friday, forcing the evacuation of all 213 passengers on board.

The Riyadh-bound plane was on the taxiway at 10.30 am and preparing to get on to the runway when air traffic control officers saw smoke billowing out of one of its engines.

Fire tenders were rushed to the spot.

Six passengers suffered minor injuries while trying to get off the plane through the emergency exits.

Sources in the airline said the Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet is part of a 15-year-old fleet that is to be discarded next month.

The plane was selected after two other aircraft developed technical snags

The flight was originally scheduled to leave at 2 am on Friday, but the departure was put off to 5.15 am after the chosen aircraft developed a snag.

The second aircraft too had a similar fault, causing another five-hour delay — before the fire caused the third hold-up.

Sixteen of the 213 passengers opted out when AI finally arranged for another flight for Riyadh at 6 pm.

Narrow escape

A fuel leak is believed to have sparked the fire, sources in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told HT. Nasim Zaidi, directorate general, DGCA, said the matter was under investigation.