AN AIR INDIA flight, AI 670, on its way from Bhubaneshwar to Mumbai made an emergency landing at Raipur airport after a fire broke out in the aircraft’s tail, according to a statement from the airline. The Airbus A321 aircraft was airborne from Bhubaneshwar’s Biju Patnaik International Airport at 5.06 pm when passengers noticed flames and alerted cabin crew.
A full emergency landing was declared at Raipur’s Swami Vivekananda Airport and the flight landed safety at 7 pm, after which emergency evacuation slides were deployed from the aircraft for 182 passengers and crew members to disembark.
A statement from Air India read, “Flight AI 670 from Bhubaneshwar to Mumbai declared emergency landing at Raipur due to tail fire. There was only tail fire and no fire warning in the cockpit…”
The statement said a tail fire could be caused due to damage on the engine blades and incomplete combustion in the engine, while adding that such fires are “not dangerous”.
When the pilots made initial contact with Raipur air traffic control (ATC), they declared a full emergency landing while reporting an issue in the aircraft’s left engine, sources said. The aircraft, however, made a safe landing with just one engine running.
RR Sahay, director AAI, Raipur airport, told The Indian Express, “The ATC at Raipur received a message from Kolkata ATC saying that an aircraft that was supposed to fly over Raipur, had taken off from Bhubaneswar for Mumbai, and that the port engine (the left engine of the aircraft) was on fire, and they would like to make an emergency landing at Raipur. The complete emergency drill was followed and CFTs (crash fire tenders) were positioned at the correct places. When the aircraft landed here, the first report from the CFT was that at that moment, there was no fire in the engine. The passengers were evacuated through chutes, which were deployed by the pilot. We ferried the passengers through buses to the terminal building.”
Sahay said that once the aircraft landed on the runway, operations were shut for two hours. “Our next focus was to remove the aircraft from the runway, which took one-and-a-half to two hours. By 7.50 pm, the aircraft was out of the runway. After that, an inspection was made of the runway and at 8 pm, the runway was opened again,” said Sahay.
The closure of the runway for at least two hours led to three flight diversions and several delays. Air India announced the dispatch of a special flight for the passengers to take them to Mumbai. “The flight will take off from New Delhi (Air India hub) at 11.30pm and land in Raipur at 1 am before continuing to Mumbai,” said a source.