AIX flight ran into un­paved ground be­fore tak­ing off

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Manju.V@ times­

Mum­bai: The Air In­dia Ex­press Boe­ing 737-800 that flew with a ripped un­der­belly for close to four hours on Fri­day, had over­run the end of the Trichy air­port run­way into the un­paved ground be­fore lift­ing off to amore event­ful take­off.

The Dubai-bound air­craft with 136 peo­ple on board, which de­parted at1.18am, hit a lo­cal­izer an­tenna and scooped out a por­tion of the air­port perime­ter wall on take­off. With a long, gap­ing wound run­ning along its un­der­belly, the Boe­ing 737 climbed to 36,000 feet and flew a dis­tance of around 1,500km and reached Mus­cat airspace be­fore be­ing di­verted to land in Mum­bai at 5.30am.

An Air­ports Au­thor­ity of In­dia (AAI) source said, “The skid marks on the ground ex­tend way be­yond the run­wayend. The air­craft dam­aged a run­way end-light too.”

Capt Mo­han Ran­ganathan, air safety ex­pert, said, “It looks like the pi­lots tried to re­ject take­off. It ap­pears to be a case of in­de­ci­sion. They seem to have con­tin­ued with­out re­al­iz­ing that they’d used up a lot of run­way in the in­de­ci­sion.”

He re­called the In­dian Air­lines Au­rangabad April 1993 flight IC491crash. The Boe­ing 737 didn’t lift off till al­most at the end of the run­way. “It then hit a truck on a high­way ply­ing on a road near the end of the run­way. One of my close friends, Capt San­jeev Mu-

Re­search found prob­lem is in­de­pen­dent of op­er­at­ing air­line, air­craft type, equip­ment and method used lherkar, and his en­tire fam­ily died in that crash. A sim­i­lar ac­ci­dent could have taken place in Trichy. There’s a road just be­yond the perime­ter wall,” said Capt Ran­ganathan.

The Air In­dia Ex­press Trichy over­run is also sim­i­lar in some as­pects to that of Emi­rates at Mel­bourne air­port in 2009. Dubai-bound Emi­rates flight 407, op­er­at­ing with an A340-500 air­craft, had taken

Half the crew ex­pe­ri­enced er­rors in pa­ram­e­ters or con­fig­u­ra­tion at take­off, some of which in­volved weight in­put into flight mgmt sys­tem Pi­lots’ knowl­edge of these pa­ram­e­ter val­ues was most fre­quently cited strat­egy used to avoid ma­jor er­rors off from Mel­bourne on the night of March 20. The air­craft over­ran the run­way dur­ing the take off roll, suf­fered a tail strike on liftoff and then went on to hit struc­tures in its path. Un­like Air In­dia Ex­press pi­lots, the Emi­rates pi­lots re­turn to land in Mel­bourne.

In­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safety Board (ATSB) found that the ac­ci­dent re­sulted from the use of er­ro­neous take­off per­for­mance pa­ram­e­ters.

De­pend­ing on fac­tors like the weight of the air­craft, length of the run­way avail­able and out­side tem­per­a­ture, the crew cal­cu­lates the thrust and take­off speeds. For in­stance, the speed at or af­ter which the take­off should not be aborted, the speed at which the air­craft can lift off safely, the speed at which the air­craft can climb out safely even if it suf­fers an en­gine fail­ure and so on.

The ATSB found that the pi­lots had taken into ac­count in­cor­rect air­craft weight when do­ing the cal­cu­la­tions dur­ing the pre-de­par­ture prepa­ra­tion. “Due to a num­ber of fac­tors, the in­cor­rect data en­try passed through the sub­se­quent checks with­out de­tec­tion,’’ the re­port said.

Fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent, ATSB un­der­took a re­search study that doc­u­mented 31ac­ci­dents and in­ci­dents iden­ti­fied be­tween Jan­uary 1989 and June 2009 where the cal­cu­la­tion and en­try of er­ro­neous take­off per­for­mance pa­ram­e­ters, such as air­craft weights and speeds, were in­volved. It found that “crew ac­tions in­volv­ing the wrong fig­ure be­ing used, data en­tered in­cor­rectly, data not be­ing up­dated, and data be­ing ex­cluded’’ as the cause be­hind 39% of cases. “This was fol­lowed by ab­sent or in­ad­e­quate risk con­trols (31%), mostly cen­tred on poor pro­ce­dures, non-op­ti­mally de­signed air­craft au­to­ma­tion sys­tems...,’’ the re­port stated.

(Above) AIX air­craft skid marks be­yond Trichy air­port run­way in­di­cate over­run on Fri­day. (L) Mesh from air­port perime­ter wall found stuck to air­craft un­der­car­riage

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