NEW DELHI: An Air India flight with 136 passengers on board landed on an under construction runway at Male airport, Maldives, on Friday. The flight, AI 263 was operating on Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram-Male sector, and everyone was safe when it touched down on the uncommissioned runway. Both the pilots have been grounded and an inquiry will be conducted by authorities in Maldives and India to find out how this serious error happened.
“The Airbus A320 NEO aircraft (VT-EXL) landed on wrong (under construction) runway at Male. There were 136 passengers and crew on board. Everyone is safe. The aircraft was towed to parking bay. A tyre of the main landing gear deflated,” said a senior AI official. The aircraft landed at a non-operational runway at Male’s Velana International Airport in the Maldives.
“Being a serious incident, Aircraft Accident Investigation Board has been informed. Both the pilots have been off rostered,” said a senior DGCA official. The aircraft is a brand new one. It has now been grounded in Male “subject to rectification and flight safety clearance.”
This is the second time in just over a month that a flight operated by an Indian carrier has landed at or tried to take off from a wrong runway at an airport abroad.
On August 3, pilots of a Jet Airways Boeing 737 at Riyadh airport attempted to take off using full power from a taxiway parallel to the runway from where it was supposed to get air borne for Mumbai. The aircraft then went off the paved area of the taxiway and got stuck there. Luckily all the 150 people on board the Jet plane were safe.
“Jet Airways B-737 (VT-JFS) flight (9W) 523 headed to Mumbai with 141 passengers and seven crew members overshot taxiway at KKIA (King Khalid International Airport at Riyadh). Initial factual information confirms that the aircraft attempted take off from taxiway parallel to take off-designated runway…. The aircraft accelerated with full take off power and exceeded the taxiway on to unpaved area ending up close to the exit of taxiway,” Saudi Arabia’s Aviation Investigation Bureau had said in a statement. Indian DGCA suspended license of both the pilots.