An aircraft skidded off the runway in Goa, leaving at least 12 passengers injured, on Monday night. The incident raised questions about safety norms in the aviation sector. Probes have been ordered into both “near-misses”, said officials.
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At 5 am in Dabolim airport, a Mumbai-bound Jet Airways flight 9W 2374 carrying 154 passengers and 7 crew members skidded off the runway while taxiing for take-off, with the aircraft turning full circle and its nose dipping to touch the soft land bordering the runway. When the evacuation was on, the aircraft tilted forward, triggering panic among passengers, said officials.
Jet Airways said seven of the 12 injured passengers were discharged after first aid. “The other five are receiving medical attention,” a press release said.
The crew of seven has been taken off duty pending investigation. The flying licence of the two pilots has been suspended and a probe launched by Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau of the Civil Aviation Ministry.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said a thorough time-bound investigation and corrective action would be ensured. Action will be taken in case of violation of procedures, he added.
According to the passengers, there was a sudden jerk and loud noise just seconds before take-off. “We had fastened our seat belts, but we felt the aircraft wobble. I was certain we had gone off-course,” said Lokesh K, a passenger.
Another passenger, Alisha C, said smoke was seen on the left side of the aircraft, causing people to panic. “Emergency lights were turned on, the flight crew seemed unprepared as they discussed the next course of action. Eventually, they guided us to the exit,” she said.
In the absence of an emergency slide at the exit, the passengers tried to jump down to the ground and sustained injuries, witnesses said.
“The Indian Navy was the first to help. Later, those injured were carried on stretchers to ambulances, while others were taken to the lounge via shuttle buses,” Lokesh said.
Gaurav Sahni, DGM Corporate Communication of Jet Airways, told The Indian Express, “The height of the wing span of Boeing 737 from the ground is less in comparison to the Airbus A320, therefore it does not have a slide. The aircraft design is approved by civil aviation agencies.”
Dabolim Airport Director B C H Negi said the reason for the mishap was being investigated, while another official said possible error on the part of the pilot was being probed.
At 2 pm, Jet Airways deployed another aircraft to transport the passengers to Mumbai.