Sunday, May 14, 2017

AI flight skids at Lohegaon after overshooting runway


PUNE: An Air India (AI) aircraft with 152 passengers on board overshot the runway while landing in Pune on Friday evening. Fortunately, the Airbus A-321 (VT-PPA) came to a stop safely and everyone on board was evacuated using emergency chutes. Three passengers reportedly suffered minor bruises during the evacuation.

The accident happened when the Delhi-Pune plane, AI-849, touched down at the Lohegaon airport here around 6.30pm. "The aircraft overshot the runway. The plane halted safely and all passengers were evacuated using chutes. All passengers are safe. The right main wheel went into the 'kutcha' area, called runway excursion. All the wheels are intact," an AI official in Delhi said.

Another AI official at the Pune airport said that no passengers had sustained injuries. "The plane had overshot the runway and all passengers are safe. There has been no tyre burst. The matter will surely be investigated," he said.

Sources in the airport said as many as four flights had been diverted, mainly to Mumbai, following the incident. One of them was a Delhi-Pune Indigo flight which was diverted to Hyderabad. Till late at night, the flight had not arrived in Pune from Hyderabad.

"The Air India flight was finally removed from the runway at around 8.15pm. Till then, the runway was kept closed. At around 8.25pm, the air traffic controller said that the runway was clear and that normal flight operations could begin. Minutes after the announcement, a Jet Airways aircraft landed," an official at the airport said.

At the Pune airport, relatives of the passengers presented a picture of worry and anxiety. The passengers too had fear written on their faces as they began trooping out of the airport around 8.30pm.

Arvind Gadad, who was waiting along with his wife for his 64-year-old mother Sunanda, said, "This is the first time she is flying. The flight landed at 6.22pm and the evacuation began at 6.30pm. Right now, she is waiting for her luggage at the terminal building and it has already been an hour and a half since the evacuation. I tried to talk to her on her cellphone but she was too frightened to even speak. However, she told me that she suffered a minor injury on her arm while jumping from the plane onto the chute."

Sunanda, on exiting from the airport, said, "There was a burning smell on the runway. The crew asked us to run far once we were out of the plane. 'Bhaago, bhaago' (run, run), they said. But I must say that they were with us all the time and helped us a lot. I had gone on the Chardham yatra. I think the almighty has saved us."


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