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Air India plane catches fire at IGIA parking bay

The aircraft was scheduled to fly at 3.30am Thursday and it finally departed with 248 people onboard after a delay of six hours.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2019 08:52 IST
Anvit Srivastava
Anvit Srivastava
New Delhi
Reacting to the incident, Air India spokesperson said their engineering team was attending to the plane when smoke was noticed in the APU.(PTI FILE)

An under-maintenance aircraft of Air India that was being readied for a flight to San Francisco caught fire at a parking bay of the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) Wednesday night.

The aircraft was scheduled to fly at 3.30am Thursday and it finally departed with 248 people onboard after a delay of six hours.

According to airport officials, the incident took place around 8.30pm. “The aircraft, a Boeing777-200LR, was undergoing a routine maintenance check when a glitch led to an auto shutdown of the auxiliary power unit (APU) — a small jet engine housed in the tail of the aircraft. Because of this, there was an oil leak and when the airline engineers restarted the APU, it caught fire,” an airport official, not authorised to speak to the media, said.

The incident took place near one of three fire stations on the airside. Airport operator, Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), said its fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the flames were doused using foam extinguishers within three minutes. The fire led to no untoward incident, DIAL said.

Reacting to the incident, Air India spokesperson said their engineering team was attending to the plane when smoke was noticed in the APU.

“As Air India accords top priority to safety issues, all corrective measures were taken to deal with the situation. To facilitate comprehensive checks and necessary repairs, the flight departure time was rescheduled from 3.30am to 10am, and passengers were informed accordingly,” the spokesperson said.

An airport officer said none of the airline’s engineering staff was available at the spot when the incident took place. However, Air India denied this and said the aircraft inspection is conducted by a certified engineering team. “Hence, doubts over the presence of our technically proficient engineers at the site is entirely baseless,” it said in a statement.

First Published: Apr 26, 2019 04:35 IST