NEW DELHI: The Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport witnessed high drama for several hours late on Sunday night when an Indian Airlines flight skidded off the runway after landing.
It was 11 pm on Sunday when IC-402 landed on the main runway here from Kolkata. Just as the plane swerved from the main runway to a taxiway for reaching the domestic terminal, it developed a hydraulic snag, which affected steering control. The Airbus went off the taxiway and its nose wheel and right wheel went onto the adjoining kutcha ground, said airport sources.
"Luckily for passengers, there have been no rains in Delhi recently, and the ground was firm and not muddy. This prevented the plane from tilting to one side. Stepladders were used to bring out passengers and they were taken to the arrival terminal in coaches. The baggage was also taken out from the stuck plane," said an official.
The plane had got stuck in such a way that its rear portion protruded on to the main runway and it had to be closed for all aircraft movement. Good visibility proved to be the saving grace as the secondary runway could be pressed into service.
Being smaller in length, planes going on long haul sectors with full load of passengers, cargo and fuel prefer to use the longer runway to take a full run-up before taking off.
"Two such airlines, Continental and American, which fly to the US first wanted to wait for the main runway to be cleared so that they could avoid taking off from the smaller one. But after a long wait, they decided to opt for the secondary runway," said an official.
All other incoming and outgoing aircraft immediately opted for the secondary runway to avoid delays.
Meanwhile, efforts were on to remove the stuck plane from the taxiway. Being its technical base, Indian had all the required equipment at IGI to tow the plane, but lack of manpower at night and waiting for a team from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for inspection meant that the plane could be moved to a hangar only around 5.30 am. The main runway was free for regular use around 6 pm — a good seven hours after the incident.
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