125 lives were in danger as Air India’s damaged plane landed in Hyderabad

Hyderabad:The 125 passengers on board Air India’s AI 541 flight — Tirupati to New Delhi via Hyderabad — had a narrow escape on Tuesday afternoon, with aviation experts saying the damage caused to the aircraft could have had serious ramifications. Based on images of the now grounded plane, experts said they indicated impairment to the radar and stabiliser, which are part of an aircraft’s primary control system.
The matter came to light after the flight landed at the city’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport around 4pm on January 29. A preliminary survey showed the underside and wings of the A321 (from airbus A320 family) had suffered damage, allegedly due to the presence of “foreign object” (presumably concrete) on the runway at Tirupati. The aircraft was moved to the hanger at RGIA, and an inquiry initiated into the incident.
A senior pilot familiar with the incident, said: “It appears a foreign object (or concrete) went through the engine at the time of take-off and was thrust out in different directions, thus damaging the wings. It seems serious, and could have led to the pilot losing hold over the primary control.”
Confirming the incident, an official spokesperson of AI said that a probe is on to ascertain the exact cause of the damage. “It is now known that the runway at Tirupati was in poor condition. Though there has been damage to the aircraft, we are glad that the pilot managed to land safely at RGIA. All our passengers travelling onwards to New Delhi were accommodated on AI and other private carriers subsequently. An inquiry and repair of the plane will be carried out simultaneously,” the spokesperson said.
When contacted, Tirupati’s airport director, claimed the damage wasn’t caused because of the runway. “Nothing happened to the aircraft during take-off. Only on landing in Hyderabad, they found there were some ‘scratches’ on the body,” the director said. Incidentally, soon after this, an inspection of the runway revealed there was damage at the edge.
31/01/19 Times of India

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