Close shave for 136 peo­ple as craft’s belly grazes...

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

From P1

All 130 pas­sen­gers and six crew mem­bers are said to be safe. The pas­sen­gers were later shifted to an­other air­craft.

Avi­a­tion ex­perts de­scribed the in­ci­dent as “very dan­ger­ous”, say­ing that even an ex­tra foot of im­pact to the plane could have led to a crash.

Ex­perts say there could be two pos­si­ble rea­sons for the ac­ci­dent — Ei­ther there wasn’t de­sired throt­tle, or the cor­rect take-off weight of the air­craft was not com­mu­ni­cated to the pi­lot. “Even a mi­nor change in re­ported air­craft take-off weight makes a big dif­fer­ence,” said a source in the Air­port Au­thor­ity of In­dia (AAI).

The flight took off at around 1:30 am from Trichy air­port. Soon, air­port au­thor­i­ties re­al­ized that the plane may have come in contact with the lo­cal­izer an­tenna (a part of the air­port com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vice called in­stru­ment land­ing sys­tem (ILS)) and the perime­ter wall. This means the air­craft took off only af­ter cov­er­ing the en­tire run­way, when nor­mally the plane is pro­vided thrust soon af­ter half the run­way is cov­ered.

Air­line of­fi­cials say when Air Traf­fic Con­trol got in touch with the com­mand­ing pi­lot, he said the sys­tems were op­er­at­ing nor­mally. “It was de­cided to di­vert the air­craft to Mum­bai as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure,” said the air­line. In­spec­tion re­vealed se­vere dam­age to the craft’s belly, and green plas­tic mesh struck near the im­pact area.

Satel­lite data ref­er­enced from flight track­ing web­site Fligh­tradar24 shows the air­craft climbed per­ilously for 31 min­utes af­ter de­par­ture to a cruis­ing al­ti­tude of around 36,000 feet and stayed there for three hours and six­teen min­utes, be­fore de­scend­ing to Mum­bai. It is still not clear yet whether the air­craft struck the ILS and the wall, or if the air­craft struck the ILS and its im­pact sent de­bris into the wall, dam­ag­ing it.

An air­line spokesper­son said that the Pi­lot-in-com­mand Cap­tain D Ganesh Babu has fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on the B737 air­craft of 3,600 hours, in­clud­ing about 500 hours as Com­man­der. First Of­fi­cer Cap­tain Anurag has an ex­pe­ri­ence of about 3,000 hours on the B 737.

Both have been derostered pend­ing a high-level in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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