Soon after boarding, passengers of a Mangalore-bound Air India plane met with an accident when the airline’s tow tractor pushed the airliner back, damaging its door and the aerobridge attached to it. Fortunately, none of the 172 passengers was hurt. They took off in another plane two hours later.
Air India has de-rostered (taken off from duty till an internal probe is over) the commander of the flight, the co-pilot, aircraft maintenance technicians and the tow tractor driver. In a similar accident on April 30, a tow-tractor pushed back a Baroda-bound Kingfisher flight.
The Air India plane will need massive repairs to become airworthy again and the aerobridge — one of five in domestic terminal 1A — would be non-functional for a week. These aerobridges handle about 370 flights daily.
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered a probe into the accident but Nasim Zaidi, director general, did not respond to phone calls or text messages.
“We would wait for the findings of the DGCA investigation and take appropriate action in the matter,” said the Mumbai International Airport Limited spokesperson.
Air India spokesperson Jitendra Bhargava said, “The incident is being investigated.”
DGCA is under severe pressure to improve safety standards after a US regulator, Federal Aviation Administration threatened to downgrade India for consistently flouting safety standards.
“With airlines bleeding profusely, courtesy low load factors, and we suspect that safety standards might slip,” said a senior DGCA official requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media.