An aircraft technician with Air India was killed Wednesday at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport when he was sucked into the engine of an aircraft that was getting ready to taxi.
The incident occurred as the Mumbai-Hyderabad flight AI 619 began its pushback at 8.46 pm. The technician, Ravi Subramanian, got pulled into the engine and died instantly. Hours later, the process of extricating the severely mutilated body was still underway.
An investigation was announced by Air India immediately. The DGCA also ordered an inquiry.
In a statement, Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani said, “We are deeply saddened and regret the tragic incident at Mumbai airport this evening when an Air India technician died in a mishap during pushback of flight AI 619. The incident is being investigated.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Lohani said, “The flight was already boarded. It was ready for take-off. While it was pushing back to come on the airstrip, he (Subramanian) was working on the ground. His body got entangled in the engine.”
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Pushback is the process of using tugs or tows to move an aircraft backward before it taxies out.
Subramaniam, 56, was a Vashi resident and worked as a service engineer. His job included disconnecting the pushcart from the aircraft before it moves towards the runway.
When the accident happened, an aircraft maintenance engineer was also with him.
According to the standard operating procedure, a maintenance engineer first gives clearance to the pilot by waving a red flag, after which the pilot can start the engine for taxiing out.
According to an eyewitness, it appeared that the flight captain may have started the engine before the clearance, though officials could not confirm this immediately.
Subramanian was near the nose wheel along with the pushcart when the engine started and he was sucked in.
The Mumbai Police is also investigating the accident. “Prima facie evidence indicates a case of accidental death, no one appears to be at fault,” Virendra Mishra, zonal DCP, said. A case of accidental death has been registered at the Sahar police station.