Hundreds of passengers on board seven city-bound flights were forced to land at other airports on Friday night because an Air India flight from London was stuck on a taxiway paralysing operations for nearly an hour. Six flights had to be diverted to Ahmedabad and one was sent to Hyderabad.
Soon after vacating the main runway, the pilot of flight AI 130 informed the air traffic control that he was unable to move the landing gear of the aircraft because of suspected hydraulic failure.
A Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson, said that airport staff saw smoke emanating from the landing gear. “The staff sprayed foam on the gear and passengers were safely deplaned,” the spokesperson said.
At that point air traffic control officials were using only the main runway. They had to switch to the other runway because the exit from the main runway was blocked by the Air India flight. By then, several incoming flights had already aligned themselves to land on the main runway.
As soon as the ATC official announced the change of runway, these flights had to re-vector their position mid-air.
In addition, airport ground staff also takes about 30 minutes to switch runways because one end of the main runway is under repair. By the time the ATC cleared the secondary runway for operations, flights decided to land at a neighbouring airport.
“At least a dozen flights were circling above the airport,” said a senior air traffic control officer. Airport sources blamed runway repairs.