Landing trouble: 5 near-accidents at airports in three days, should we be scared?
Scary days for Indian commercial aviation refuse to end with five passenger jets now suffering minor incidents on the runway in the past three days. Two Air India Express and three SpiceJet planes suffered runway incidents in past three days, none of which, thankfully, led to any injuries or casualties.
The near-accidents include overshooting the runway and veering off the designated operating line. The incidents took place at the Mangalore, Surat, Kozhikode, Mumbai and Kolkata airports.
The most serious of these accidents took place in Mumbai on Monday night when a SpiceJet passenger jet overshot the runway after landing, putting the city's main runway out of commission for several hours. More than 50 flights had to be cancelled as a result.
Of the five runway incidents, four were due to wet runways and rain. The incidents prompted aviation watchdog DGCA to issue safety directions to airlines over the incidents of aircraft overshooting runways after landing.
The first of the five incidents took place in Mangalore on Sunday. An Air India Express from Dubai veered off the taxiway after landing and got stuck in soft ground.
Passengers and crew onboard -- 183 in all -- the Air India Express flight were safely evacuated with the help of a step ladder. According to a report by news agency Press Trust of India, wet runway and overspeeding were identified as the preliminary factors behind the Mangalore incident.
Air India Express @ Mangalore airport.RushLane (@rushlane) June 30, 2019
Not going anywhere in a hurry. pic.twitter.com/i3JajMgEfN
The Mangalore accident brought back memories of the 2010 crash of Air India Express Flight 812 -- the last major crash of a passenger aircraft in India.
On May 22, 2010, an Air India Express flight, also from Dubai, overshot the runway after landing and crashed down a hillside located on one end of the Mangalore airport, killing 158 people.
The second incident also took place on Sunday. A SpiceJet flight from Bhopal overshot the runway after landing at the Surat airport in Gujarat. All the 48 passengers and crew onboard the plane were safely evacuated.
An airport official blamed heavy rain and strong winds for the SpiceJet flight overshooting the runway. "A SpiceJet flight from Bhopal to Surat overshot runway at the airport here due to heavy rainfall and wind. All the 43 passengers and four crew members are safe and they are being handled by the SpiceJet officials," Surat airport director SK Panigrahi was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The Surat airport was shut down for eight hours following the incident. During this period, three flights were diverted to Ahmedabad.
Continuing Indian aviation's ill-fated run, an Air India Express brushed against the runway surface while landing at the Kozhikode airport on Monday. The flight was flying from Dammam in Saudi Arabia.
According to news agency ANI, the Air India Express flight suffered a "tail tip", i.e. the rear part of the plane touched the surface while landing. Nobody was injured in the incident.
Heavy rain in Mumbai caused a SpiceJet flight to skid and overshoot the runway while landing at the city's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport on Monday night.
Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) Spox: A 150 m length of ramp is being prepared to push an aircraft out of the grassy area. Air India's disabled aircraft recovery kit has been mobilised.ANI (@ANI) July 2, 2019
SpiceJet SG 6237 overshot runway at Mumbai Airport today. All passengers were safe pic.twitter.com/M9fvLATacU
The flight, which was flying from Jaipur, suffered the accident at around 11:45 pm. "On July 1, SpiceJet Boeing 737-800 aircraft operated flight SG 6237 from Jaipur to Mumbai. There was heavy rain in Mumbai and the aircraft, after landing, overshot the runway. Passengers were deplaned normally. There was no injury to either the passengers or the crew," an airline spokesperson said.
The incident forced a shutdown of the Mumbai airport's primary runway, forcing airport officials to use the secondary runway for all arrivals and departures.
As many as 52 flights were cancelled and another 55 were diverted to nearby airports due to the primary runway's closure. Nobody was hurt in the incident at the Mumbai airport.
The last in the series of unfortunate incidents took place at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata on Tuesday afternoon.
A SpiceJet flight from Pune nearly went off the runway after landing. The flight -- a Boeing 737-800 -- veered off to the right of the centre line and ended up damaging four runway lights.
The pilots were able to bring the plane back in line with the runway's centre, avoiding a major mishap. A SpiceJet spokesperson said nobody was injured in the incident and that passengers were able to deplane normally.