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Emergency landing at Mumbai airport: In my career, never heard of aircraft wheel falling off, says pilot

The flight had taken off from Bagdogra in West Bengal and stopped at Nagpur for refuelling on way to Mumbai. It was carrying two crew members, one patient, one relative and a doctor.

Written by Yogesh Naik | Mumbai |
May 8, 2021 12:27:26 am
Capt Keshari Singh was flying Beechcraft C90 air ambulance.

Captain Keshari Singh, the pilot of the Beechcraft C90 air ambulance that made an emergency landing at Mumbai airport late Thursday after a wheel of the aircraft fell off at Nagpur airport, said that a disaster was averted as a CISF constable alerted the Air Traffic Control (ATC) about the fallen wheel.

The flight had taken off from Bagdogra in West Bengal and stopped at Nagpur for refuelling on way to Mumbai. It was carrying two crew members, one patient, one relative and a doctor.

Singh told The Indian Express, “We were going from Durgapur to Nagpur, where we waited for refueling. We took off from Nagpur at 5.06 pm. Apparently, a CISF constable spotted the wheel falling on the runway and alerted his seniors. When we were 90 nautical miles away from Nagpur, the ATC got in touch and asked whether everything was okay. I checked the systems and replied that everything was fine. The ATC then said that a wheel had fallen off. I lost touch with the ATC at a distance of 150 nautical miles away from Nagpur.’’

By then, Nagpur ATC had alerted its Mumbai counterpart, who contacted Singh. “Never in my flying career have I heard about the wheel of an aircraft falling off. The ATC also called the manager of my company and the engineering staff, but received no feedback from them,” said Singh.

“Around 7.10 pm, we were asked to do an underpass (at a height of 100 ft from runway) on runway 27 so the ground staff could see what was wrong. We were told that the port wheel (left wheel) of the aircraft was missing.’’

The ATC and airport authorities alerted the follow-me jeep, apron control and fire staff of Mumbai International Airport Limited, which runs the airport, to inspect the aircraft at 7.13 pm from underneath. Singh was told to burn fuel and he remained airborne for nearly two hours so the aircraft does not catch fire on landing.

“I did not tell the family that we have to go for an emergency landing. Just 10 minutes before landing, I alerted the doctor and told him to be ready,’’ Singh said.

He went on to perform a belly landing. A belly landing occurs when an aircraft lands without its landing gear fully extended and uses its underside, or belly, as its primary landing device.

Rajiv Mehta, General Manager of Mumbai ATC, said: “The landing was smooth, the captain did not lose nerve. The ATC, fire staff and others at MIAL did an excellent job.”

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