Aircraft crash-landing not an ‘accident’

Aircraft crash-landing not an ‘accident’

New Delhi: The aviation regulator has termed a crash-landing by a Kingfisher Airlines Ltd flight in Mumbai last year as a “serious incident" rather than a “serious accident."

A Kingfisher turboprop ATR aircraft, operating flight IT-4124 from Bhavnagar to Mumbai with 36 passengers on board, skidded off the runway at the Mumbai airport in November 2009.

An investigation report by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which was made public on Tuesday and reviewed by Mint, called it a serious incident while reporting severe damage to the aircraft, including a crack around the fuselage, broken nose landing gear and extensive damage to the main landing gear. No deaths were reported. DGCA’s aircraft rules of 1937 define a serious accident as one where “any person suffers death or serious injury" or the “aircraft receives substantial damage."

This finding is a deviation from DGCA rules, according to an official of the regulator and Mohan Ranganathan, a Chennai-based safety expert and member of the government-established Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council.

The assessment will keep 2009 as an accident-free year for India’s civil aviation sector, said a DGCA official, requesting anonymity.

The official added that the matter is being looked into and the report has been removed from the regulator’s website.

“I think some arm-twisting has been done to cover it as a serious incident," said Ranganathan.

He said insurance premiums could change for the carrier with a change in the classification.

A Kingfisher spokesman did not respond to phone calls and an email seeking comment.

The investigation report also found the flight was being operated by an unqualified pilot for the shortened runway and there was a breakdown of cockpit crew resource management principles.