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August 2, 2010

Plane flies despite snag at takeoff

Filed under: Incidents — aerotowfeeq @ 11:36 pm
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A Kingfisher Airlines flight bound for Ranchi was declared “unfit” for onward journey on landing in the Jharkhand capital five days ago, but sources have told that the snag had occurred while taking off from the Jaiprakash Narayan airport here.

Flight IT 3571, with 173 passengers on board, took off from Patna around 3.08pm on July 26 for a roughly 40-minute journey to Ranchi. On landing at the Birsa Munda airport around 3.50pm, the Airbus A320 was found “not fit” for onward journey to Mumbai.

It was found that fan blades of one of the engines and the cowlings — the outer cover of the engines — were damaged.

The extent of the damage was such that aircraft engineers from Calcutta had to be flown to Ranchi.

Information suggests that the aircraft developed a snag during takeoff from Patna. The commander, Captain Meera Pandey, however, did not report any such problem.

Sources at Patna airport said that as soon as the flight took off, a bird chaser reported that he had seen a metal sheet, around 2 feet long and 1.5 feet wide, lying on the runway.

The air traffic control got in touch with the captain. “A metal sheet has been found on the runway, confirm all operations normal,” the ATC asked the flight captain at 3:19:53pm. Within six seconds of the query came the reply that all operations were normal.

Kingfisher sources revealed that the sheet found on the runway was a perforated one that is pasted on the inner wall of the engine for noise reduction. “It has been confirmed that the sheet belonged to the same aircraft that was operating on the Patna-Ranchi route,” said a source in the airline.

Aviation industry sources said they were surprised that the pilot, otherwise described as being experienced and careful about passenger safety, chose to ignore the ATC warning that the sheet was missing. “It is really surprising that the pilot chose to fly on,” said the source.

Airline vice-president (corporate communications) Prakash Mirpuri said: “The aircraft operating Kingfisher Airlines flight IT 3571 from Patna to Ranchi on July 26, 2010, was hit by a bird. All operating parameters of the engines, however, were normal and, therefore, the crew continued to operate the flight.”

Norms stipulate that in case of any problem in an engine, the pilot should land at the nearest airport/airbase.


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