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Narrow escape for AI passengers

Staff Reporter



disaster averted: The Air India Airbus 310 grounded at the Calicut International Airport in Karipur after its right wing grazed the runway while touching down on Friday morning.

MALAPPURAM: The 161 passengers and 10 crew members of an Air India Airbus 310 had a providential escape when the right wing of flight AI 962 from Jeddah hit the runway while landing at the Calicut International Airport at Karipur in Malappuram district of Kerala on Friday morning.

Witnesses said a disaster was averted as the captain regained control of the aircraft soon after touch-down and managed to prevent the plane from careening off the runway. Had the nose of the plane turned as the wing tilted, it would have been disastrous. There were five aircraft on the apron, including a Boeing Jumbo 747 carrying Haj pilgrims, when the accident took place at 9.30 a.m.

The light panels and lightning arresters on the plane’s wing were broken. There was a deep mark on the runway where the wing grazed it for about 100 metres.

The weather was clear and landing was allowed with the aid of VOR-DME instrument. The visibility then was 6 km and the wind speed four knots at 100 degree. “The condition was favourable for landing,” said airport officials.

Sources said the aircraft bumped as it landed and tilted to its right. It is suspected to have touched down to the left of the runway. “Otherwise, the wing tip of the A 310 aircraft, with a wingspan of 43.9 metre, will not brush against the runway at Karipur,” said a senior airline official. The width of the runway there is hardly 45 metres.

Airport officials said it was fortunate the flight did not cartwheel despite the tilting, while landing at a speed of 200 kmph.

Director-in-charge of the airport Chinson V.S. Panakkal has given a preliminary report to the Director-General of Civil Aviation. Mr. Panakkal said the surface of the runway was not damaged and no runway lights were broken.

The exact cause of the accident will be available only after examination of the Flight Data Recorder.

According to initial investigations, one of the landing gears of the plane was suspected to have failed. A team of engineers from Mumbai has rushed to Karipur to examine the aircraft. A team of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security is expected to arrive here on Saturday for an inquiry.

The flight from Jeddah was on its way to Mumbai.

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