All 136 people on board a Dubai-bound Air India Express plane had a miraculous escape when the tyre of the aircraft hit an equipment used to guide a pilot to land a flight and then brushed the compound wall during take-off at Tiruchirappalli International Airport early Friday.
The 130 passengers inside the aircraft were shocked and panicked as the aircraft shook and tossed wildly. The pilot tried to lift off further when the tyre brushed the compound wall, airport officials said.
In the meanwhile air traffic control officials could not contact the pilot as the signal went off.
The officials said the 50-foot compound wall and the barbed fence at the airport were damaged due to the impact.
"Luckily there was no bus or lorry on the highway adjacent to the airport and thus a major mishap has been averted. The tyre of the aircraft and small portion of the front side of the aircraft got slightly damaged," one of the officials said.
The traffic control officials saw the accident via CCTV camera while the passengers inside the plane remained anxious about what exactly had happened.
As the pilot continued to operate the plane, the passengers had heated exchanges with the six crew members. However, they were persuaded that there was nothing to worry and the flight proceeded, the officials said.
Airport officials later informed their counterparts in Dubai about the accident and also told them that there was no major damage to the aircraft and it was safe for it to land there.
However, Dubai airport officials refused to allow the plane to land under the presumption that it was risky to allow it as the tyre had been slightly damaged, throwing the passengers on board into another round of anxiety.
The passengers were then told that the plane could land in Mumbai and the permission for it had been obtained.
An investigation has been ordered into the accident.
It was not known whether technical snag or pilot error was responsible for the accident.
The pilots have been "derostered" pending investigation, Air India Express said in a statement.
"Flight IX-611 took off from Trichy for Dubai around 1.30 am Friday. It was reported by Trichy airport officials that they have observed that the aircraft might have come in contact with the airport perimeter wall," it said.
Tiruchirappalli airport Director K Gunasekaran said on-duty Central Industrial Security Force personnel had informed the air traffic control about the accident, following which the air traffic controller informed the pilots about it.
"The pilots reported all operations normal. So we allowed them (to proceed)," he said.
Gunasekaran the Instrument Landing System (ILS), used to guide a pilot to land a flight at an airport, and the VHF antenna on the aircraft were damaged.
According to the airline, the pilot in command, Captain D Ganesh Babu, has a flying experience on the B737 aircraft of 3,600 hours. The first officer, Captain Anurag, has an experience of about 3,000 hours on the B737.
On Twitter, Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said, "Air India has constituted a sub-committee of the board headed by an independent director of the board for looking at all safety related issues within the organisation including subsidiaries."
Tamil Nadu Minister Vellamandi Natrajan visited the spot and inspected the damages to the wall, adjacent to a state highway.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)