TIRUCHY: The International Airport at Tiruchy drew global attention recently as a Dubai- bound Air India Express flight miraculously escaped when it brushed past the airport compound wall here at the end of the runway, while taking off in the wee hours of October 12. All the 130 passengers and six crew members had a miraculous escape.
Airport sources told DC that around 0119 hours, the flight commandant Capt. Ganeshkumar operating the aircraft on its taking-off process hit and damaged the Instrument landing system (ILS), one runway end light (RWY 27), five ILS functional monitoring antennas and an ILS monitor controlled antenna, before the wheelbase of the aircraft crashed the compound wall very close to the Tiruchy- Pudukkottai National Highway. It resulted in a small portion of the compound wall collapsing at two places and also damaged the fencing.
The Air traffic Control (ATC) duty staff gave a note to airman and also directed the pilot to come back for an emergency landing, but he told the ATC that they were safe and continued their journey as if nothing happened.
Realising the trouble and danger, the ATC alerted the Air Indian Express authorities and the Mumbai airport. Then, at Mumbai airport ATC’s instruction, the aircraft nearing Muscat returned to Mumbai for an emergency landing there. The passengers of the aircraft came to know about the episode only after the aircraft alighted at Mumbai airport.
According to local residents residing on the Tiruchy-Pudukkottai National highway, fortunately at that time when the flight crashed the compound wall, very close to the National highway, there was no vehicular movement; otherwise a major mishap could have taken place.
This incident has given the jolt to the Airports Authority of India to pursue the expansion of the existing runway, which has been long delayed due to the bottlenecks faced in land acquisition for the proposed runway expansion.
Though the AAI instituted a high level inquiry into the incident, the outcome of the probe is yet to be released. However, after setting right the damaged compound wall and other communication equipment, flights movement in and out of Tiruchy International airport is going on as usual.