Around 111 passengers on board a Patna-New Delhi Air India Airbus 320 aircraft (AI 408) had a lucky escape when one of its engine allegedly caught fire, forcing the pilot to abort take-off at the eleventh hour in Patna on Wednesday afternoon (at 3.15pm).
Airport sources said the pilots noticed two sparks from the right engine as it was taxiing and then a sound and spark as the engine revved up for take-off on the runway.
The alert pilots immediately pulled back and intimated the Air Traffic Control about the suspected fire. As a precautionary measure, crash fire tenders of the Airports Authority of India were sent to the runway, but did not have to be used.
The aircraft safely taxied back to the parking bay of the Jay Prakash Narayan International Airport in Patna. All passengers were reported safe, as they were made to disembark.
The aircraft had been grounded and a thorough check of the engine was being carried out at the time of reporting. AI engineers were also trying to ascertain the reason for the fire.
Initial reports said the fire was due to loosening of some equipment in the right engine of the A-320 aircraft.
Confirming the incident, airport director Arvind Dubey said, “The pilots abandoned take-off due to a technical snag in the aircraft. Initial report of bird-hit has been ruled out. All passengers are safe.”
None from the Air India was available for comments.