The emergency exit of a New Delhi-bound Kingfisher Airlines plane flung open just as it was about to take off from the Lucknow airport on Tuesday night, delaying its departure by nearly two hours.
Sixty-two passengers and four crewmembers were aboard the aircraft, IT-4660, when the incident took place. Airline authorities said a passenger on board had opened the latch on the emergency door. The passenger, who was not identified, was de-planed and handed over to the authorities.
However, other passengers said airline authorities were just blaming a passenger to cover up their lapse.
“They were treating him like a criminal,” said RK Singh, one of the passengers on board. The passengers also denied the airlines’ claim that the plane was “stationary at the time as boarding was still in progress”.
“The plane was on the runway and ready for take off when the emergency exit gate opened,” said a passenger, who did not want to be named.
Sources at the airport told HT that it is not possible to open the emergency door of a plane once the pilot has taken over command of the cockpit.
Post the incident, authorities conducted a thorough examination of the aircraft and cleared it for departure.
However, seven passengers withdrew from the flight citing insecurity, and the flight, scheduled for 10:40pm, finally took off at 12:30am with only 55 passengers on board, officials said.
Meanwhile, aviation regulator Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered an inquiry into the incident.