Air India aircraft scrapes Mumbai runway

Passengers in the back rows were jolted by the impact,but no injuries were reported.

Written by Smita Aggarwal | New Delhi | Published: March 13, 2012 12:42:49 am

An Air India pilot attempted to take off immediately after landing in Mumbai this morning in the mistaken belief that the aircraft had been hit by a bird,causing the tail to scrape the runway at high speed,and putting the plane and the nearly 100 passengers on board at risk,sources said.

AI 614 from Ahmedabad skidded and lurched in a shower of sparks as the airframe brushed the tarmac at nearly 180 km per hour. Passengers in the back rows were jolted by the impact,but no injuries were reported.

The plane,an Airbus 319 inducted less than two years ago,will be out of service for at least two months. Repairs could cost up to Rs 3 crore,sources said. Grave consequences might have followed had the auxiliary power unit in the tail caught fire.

The air safety regulator,Directorate General of Civil Aviation,has started a probe. The pilot has been de-rostered pending the inquiry.

Sources said cockpit voice recording indicated Capt Samaira Ali suspected a birdhit as she came in to land. “She followed birdhit landing procedures. The CVR noted that the pilot said she will attempt a go-around. While she was trying to take off again,she pulled the flaps up,but the aircraft had no power to take off,and as a result she skidded on the runway,” said a source. “This is an extremely rare occurrence,” said another source.

“During landing or takeoff,if an aircraft tends to pitch higher than normal,it gives out a pitch warning that is impossible to ignore. A pilot is supposed to… bring the pitch down to normal. In this case,the pilot seems to have disregarded the warnings.”

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