MUMBAI: On Friday, a Jet Airways flight was not even on the runway when it tried to take off from the Riyadh airport in Saudi Arabia. Its two pilots are close to losing their flying licence after they allegedly attempted take-off from a taxiway instead of the runway, endangering nearly 150 on board.
Aviation sources have told NDTV that the taxiway, which runs parallel to the designated runway, had not been properly mapped into the plans of Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport.
The Mumbai-bound Boeing 737 tried to take off a little after midnight on Friday, according to the Saudi Arabian aviation bureau. The visibility was high and there were no “foreign object debris” or obstacles on the taxiway.
“The aircraft accelerated with full take-off power and exceeded the taxiway onto unpaved area…,” said the Saudi statement. Passengers and crew were immediately evacuated through emergency slides by fire and rescue teams.
A taxiway is the strip that links terminals, parking bays, runways and other facilities at an airport.
An official of aviation regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) had said that the pilots aborted take-off after they were informed about a “barrier” on the runway. The plane veered off the runway due to “sudden stopping”, the official had earlier said, before the Saudi aviation authorities put out their version.
The regulator today said that it had “suspended the flying licence of both the pilots involved in runway excursion incident, pending investigation.”
Both Saudi and Indian aviation authorities are investigating the incident jointly.
In a tweet, Jet Airways said its Mumbai-bound flight had aborted take-off and veered off the runway, but without specifying the reason.
Jet Airways in another tweet said the airlines “is in contact with the DGCA and has extended all co-operation with regard to the said incident”
“The airline will continue to adhere to all requirements laid down by the regulator,” it said and added, “The matter is currently under investigation and we cannot currently comment on the issue.”