3 days on, SpiceJet aircraft still stuck at Mumbai airport
Passengers flying from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) may continue to face delays as the stuck SpiceJet aircraft is likely to be towed away only by Friday evening. In the 72 hours since it has been stuck, the aircraft has been moved just around 70 metres towards the paved area of the runway. Since the plane overshot the main runway early Tuesday morning, three attempts have been made to move it without any success. A team from Air India, which has the only Disabled Aircraft Recovery Kit (DARK) in the country, is heading the operations.
A spokesperson for Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (MIAL) said, “Flight operations are delayed for 30 to 45 minutes and six flights had to be diverted. Fourteen departures and 11 arrivals of IndiGo airline were cancelled throughout the day till 11.45pm.”
A senior airport official said, “Two failed attempts to push back the aircraft have been made and the airport operator is preparing a better pathway of the aircraft now. Due to extreme soft mud, there has been no success in building the pathway of the aircraft (which is made by asphalt rocks and metal plates over the mud). The airport operator is attempting to make a stronger path for the aircraft so that it can be brought to the runway.”
Flight SG 6237, flying from Jaipur with 160 passengers on board, overshot the runway at 11.15pm on Monday, while landing during a downpour. A senior airport official said, “The aircraft touched down at a speed which is usually maintained while approaching a runway. The extremely high speed of the aircraft could be stopped only because of the presence of soft mud in the unpaved area.” Airport officials said that rescue operations began at around 12pm on Tuesday since the recovery kit, which came from Mangalore, was delayed by heavy rain in Mumbai.
Since Tuesday, flights are being operated from the second and less-efficient runway. While more than 200 flights - out of the daily 950 - were cancelled on Tuesday, there were 25 cancellations on Thursday. Sources close to the operation said the aircraft needs to be moved another 30-40 metres towards the runway. Once the plane has been pulled on to the runway, it would take another 24 hours for the main runway to become operational. This is the time required to tow the aircraft to the hangar and repair the damaged runway.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the friction test report of the main runway in Mumbai was satisfactory and that punitive action has been initiated against 12 “erring personnel for non-compliance”. It also announced a “special audit of all scheduled airlines and aerodromes in monsoon-affected areas”.