A day after a catastrophe was averted in New York with a US airlines plane landing in Hudson Bay,38 passengers of a Jetlite flight on Saturday had a close shave when the aircraft took a bird hit soon after taking off from the Netaji Subash Chandra Bose airport in Kolkata.
The Boeing 737 took off for Guwahati around 6:29 am with passengers and eight crew members. Within minutes,a bird hit its left engine. The blades of the engine broke and sparks were seen due to friction.
Eyewitness present at the runway said the aircraft was at about 400 ft when it was hit by a big bird and in seconds the plane fell a few feet.
AAI officials said the pilot,captain Ajay Arie,promptly switched off the engine making loud noise and asked for an emergency landing.
Meanwhile,the flight had also been spotted by the ATC and a full emergency landing was declared at the airport. As the flight made a safe landing at 6:48 am with one engine completely damaged,ambulances and fire tenders were ready.
The bird hit could have been fatal if the other engine had failed due to any technical glitch or if the pilot had not switched off the left engine just in time.
The bird hit comes within a month of the foundation stone laying ceremony for the airports modernisation. The Kolkata Airport Environment Committee had in August last brought up issues of garbage and fishing in the Bagjola Canal that leads to the bird menace around the airport. According to Bureau of Civil Aviation rules,no garbage should be dumped within a 10-km radius of the airport. Security comes first and before extending the runway or modernisation of buildings,soem basic problems need to be addressed. There is negligence both on the part of AAI and the municipalities, said a ground staff member.