October 7, 2003
It was announced as a routine ‘‘technical snag’’, which somehow made an Indian Airlines plane go off the runway at Mumbai airport on Friday. But Indian Express inquiries reveal the pilot of IC-107 was trying to avoid a possible collision with a Jet Airways Boeing 737 coming in to land.
IA officials are lauding Captain K. Nagrath’s decision to veer the Bangalore-bound 145-seater Airbus (IC 107) off the runway—which resulted in the aircraft getting mired in soft mud—though airport director S. Kumar, denies that the planes were on a collision course. Sixty passengers from the flight were moved to a new aircraft on Friday evening because of this incident.
IA Director (Public Relations) Anup Srivastava, said today: ‘‘Our intention is not to blame anyone for what transpired on the runway, but we reiterate that while Captain Nagrath was returning back from the runway to the bay of Mumbai airport, he clearly saw a Jet Airways plane was about to land on the same runway. So to avoid any possible mishap, he quickly diverted the plane off the runway.’’
Srivastava added: ‘‘It was important for Capt Nagrath to take this evasive action, and we appreciate his presence of mind to clear the runway for the approaching Jet Airways aircraft.’’
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has set up an inquiry committee to probe the incident. However, Mumbai airport director S.Kumar said that ‘‘the near miss stories floating around in the media’’ were not true. ‘‘This is nothing but yellow journalism,’’ said Kumar. ‘‘There was just a technical snag in the IA plane which somehow landed in soft mud near the runway.’’
Senior Jet executive Saroj Dutta said he was aware of the incident. ‘‘But I cannot confirm it as no details are available from the relevant airport authority,’’ Dutta said. Meanwhile, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), is praising Capt Nagrath’s quick decision on the runway. ‘‘We will cooperate with the DGCA for speedy completion of the report, and request that Nagrath be allowed to continue flying for IA,’’ said ICPA spokesperson Capt Paresh Nerurkar.
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