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Pieces of Air India plane’s tyre found on Delhi airport runway

Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which operates the Delhi airport, carried out an inspection of the pieces and the runway was closed for around 15 minutes, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

india Updated: May 11, 2019 07:47 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Air India,Air India plane,Indira Gandhi International Airport
Fleeting panic seized air traffic control officials at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport this week when pieces of an aircraft’s tyre were found on one of its three runways. (Mint File Photo)

Fleeting panic seized air traffic control officials at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport this week when pieces of an aircraft’s tyre were found on one of its three runways.

An Air India plane was stopped from landing and asked to go around as the runway was cleared and the pilots of six aircraft that had taken off minutes earlier were contacted and asked to take precautions when they landed at their destinations — just in case the pieces had come off one of their tyres.

Heat and harsh landings could lead to wear and tear of the outer part of a plane tyre and if a part of it falls off at take off, the pilot must be informed so that he can take precautions while landing at the destination, experts said. Minutes after the pieces were discovered on Wednesday, the aircraft was identified as an Air India Boeing, whose pilot landed the aircraft safely at its destination, Rome, people aware of the incident said.

It was around 1:50 pm when the crew of AI-078 (Bhubaneswar-Delhi) informed the airport operator and the ATC about finding pieces of a plane tyre on runway 29, the longest in India.

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Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which operates the Delhi airport, carried out an inspection of the pieces and the runway was closed for around 15 minutes, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity. “AI 381, which was next to land, was asked to carry out a ‘go around’ procedure as it was already approaching the runway. After the ‘go around,’ it landed on another runway. Simultaneously, the control room was asked to check the last few departures from that runway,” said an ATC official, requesting anonymity.

The control room identified six flights, five of Air India and one of Vistara, that had departed in the previous 20 minutes.

“AI-123 to Rome, UK-812 to Jammu, AI-471 to Udaipur, AI-167 to Stockholm, AI-9809 to Gorakhpur and AI-544 to Hyderabad were contacted to give information for precautionary landing. In the meantime, apron control had coordinated with the airlines to come and verify the tyre pieces,” said a Delhi airport official.

An Air India engineering team confirmed that the tyre pieces belonged to one of the airline’s Boeing 787s and that the aircraft had departed for Rome. The pilot of that flight was informed and it made a safe landing.

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“Decapping can take place anytime, although heat is one of the contributory factors. But if a pilot is warned about it before landing, there is no risk,” said Mohan Ranganathan, an aviation safety expert.

According to an Air India official, the Rome bound flight was late by around 35 minutes. After the landing, an engineering team examined the aircraft.

Such incidents have taken place in the past too. In March 2015, an Oman Air flight survived a scare when the plane’s tyre burst on landing at Delhi airport.

In September 2015, an Air India flight to Bagdogra had to return back to Delhi, following a suspected tyre burst. And in October 2017, a runway at Delhi airport was closed for 86 minutes as a chartered plane was stuck on the tarmac following tyre burst.

First Published: May 11, 2019 07:44 IST