New Delhi/Mumbai: The nose wheel gear of Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.’s Mumbai-Vadodra flight with 46 passengers on board collapsed on Thursday afternoon at the Mumbai airport when the aircraft was being towed to the runway for take-off.
This is the second safety-related incident the airline has faced in a fortnight. On 19 April, 138 passengers aboard Kingfisher’s Kolkata-Hyderabad-Bangalore flight on an Airbus A320-232 aircraft had a narrow escape after the aircraft veered and skidded off the runway at Bengaluru International Airport due to rain and high winds.
“The Mumbai-Baroda (flight with) 46 passengers onboard (was) pushed back (by a tow truck) at 1634 hrs; at 1642 hrs the nose wheel tyre burst, all passengers (were) off loaded, (and there were) no casualties reported,” a Mumbai International Airport Ltd spokesman said in a text message.
Narrow escape: A Kingfisher Airline plane. Thursday’s was the second safety-related incident the airline has faced in a fortnight. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
This is the first incident of a nose wheel collapse in the country this year in an industry that is trying to keep afloat as it suffers massive losses. In 2008, the nose wheel of an Air India aircraft being prepared for a Mumbai-Dubai flight collapsed during a pre-flight inspection at the parking bay of the Mumbai airport.
“It appears that on pushback, the tow-bar pin sheared and the tow-bar tractor propelled forward and came in contact with the nose gear. Preliminary reports indicate damage to nose gear,” Kingfisher Airlines spokesman Prakash Mirpuri said, adding that all the passengers were accommodated in another flight.
Former head of the International Air Transport Association in India Robey Lal said Directorate General of Civil Aviation should launch an inquiry as it was an area of “concern”. “Any issue at the apron is a safety issue. If it’s hit the tractor then its an accident; otherwise this is an incident,” he said adding, “There should be analysis of the metal for metal fatigue and the driving pattern of the pushback tractor driver.”
If the aircraft has been damaged it will require key checks before the aircraft can fly again, he added.