More than 100 passengers on board an IndiGo flight to Nagpur experienced a safety scare at the Pune airport on Saturday owing to a last-minute aborted take-off that made the plane come to a screeching halt. Nobody was hurt, said airport sources.
The take-off was cancelled owing to the sudden arrival of many birds on the tarmac. Airport officials said that the air traffic control (tower) asked the pilot to stop seconds before the plane was about to be airborne. The aircraft was travelling at about 80 knots on the ground at that time.
An IndiGo Airlines spokesperson confirmed that the flight aborted take-off on ATC’s instructions. “Owing to birds observed on the runway, the IndiGo pilot operating 6E134 flight this morning was instructed to reject take off by the ATC. The pilot followed the procedures laid for the above said scenario and applied brakes. At IndiGo, safety and security of our passengers, crew and the aircraft is of top priority and at no time it was compromised,” said the spokesperson.
The scare delayed the flight by about 90 minutes.
“We airport taxiied back to a bay following the scare. It took off an about an hour later,” said a passenger requesting anonymity.
Cases of flight disruptions owing to bird hits and presence of other animals straying on the tarmac almost doubled between 2010 and 2014. From 378 incidents recorded in 2010, the cases rose to 719 until 2014. Until March last year, 97 cases were witnessed.
Air safety experts said bird strike not just puts fliers’ safety at risk, but also bleeds the airline industry. According to the DGCA data, losses caused by such disruptions rose from Rs7.5 crore in 2010 to more than Rs25 crore in 2014.