A jolt,4 bursts and four hours in stifling heat

A heavy jolt was followed by the sound of tyres bursting,then the temperature rose unbearably aboard Indian Airlines’ IC 866. Its passengers recounted the agony on Monday after the flight from Goa landed in Delhi...

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:February 10, 2009 12:59 am

A heavy jolt was followed by the sound of tyres bursting,then the temperature rose unbearably aboard Indian Airlines’ IC 866. Its passengers recounted the agony on Monday after the flight from Goa landed in Delhi,having survived a scare that saw the aircraft narrowly missing one of the President’s helicopter in Mumbai.

“Our flight was just about to take off when the pilot clamped the brakes hard,causing a heavy jolt. We then saw three helicopters landing,one after the other,in front of our flight,” said Vijay Verma,who runs an advertising agency in Mumbai.

“It was a heavy jolt,but no one was hurt,” another passenger said,but what followed was unbearable as the emergency braking caused four tyres to burst and then sent the temperature inside the aircraft soaring.

“It wasn’t just the tyre bursts. The engine heated up and the fuel tank was full,” said Pranav Khullar,a government employee with the Ministry of Finance.

The flight landed in New Delhi at 2.45 pm,with only 120 of the original 145 passengers,the rest having cancelled their tickets after the incident. All were indignant at the IAF and most grateful to the pilot,S S Kohli,whose timely action,they said,ensured their safety.

It took airport authorities at least three hours to understand the nature of the incident,they said. “It was the pilot who announced that some IAF helicopters had landed on the same runway from nowhere. Our life was saved due to Captain Kohli’s presence of mind,” said Satyajit,one of the passengers.

Khullar agreed: “Had it not been for Captain Kohli’s instant action,all of us would have been dead. He saved our lives. I thank him again.”

Soch and Anata,two disabled sisters from Israel,felt the three hours they were made to sit inside the plane after the incident were “quite unfair”. “This does not happen in Israel. We just kept sitting inside the grounded airplane for three hours before changing. It is difficult to understand why,” Anata said

It was an agonising wait for Anshul Dhar too. “I had travelled from Dubai to Delhi via a connecting flight from Mumbai. My father is in hospital. We started from Dubai at 10 pm last night and I insisted on this 9 am flight when I had the choice of taking the 10 am flight. Now we got delayed by over four hours,” Dhar said.

The President’s entourage of Pratap 1 helicopters had landed on the runway when the Indian Airlines flight was ready for take off,after clearance from the Air Traffic Controller. The flight,which was initially scheduled for departure at 9 am,finally left Mumbai airport at 1 pm.

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