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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Jet airways landing gear fails at Khajurajo - runway restored after efforts

An aircraft taking off and landing is quite an experience and a great sight too. The plane would descend, lose speed, landing gear would extend under its belly, the wheels would take the first shock, then the air-borne giant would be smoothly running on the runway on the tyres.  Landing gear is the undercarriage of an aircraft or spacecraft that comprises of sets of tyres.

For aircraft, the landing gear supports the craft when it is not flying, allowing it to take off, land and usually to taxi without damage. Wheels are typically used but skids, skis, floats or a combination of these and other elements can also  be deployed. Faster aircraft usually have retractable undercarriage, which folds away during flight to reduce air resistance or drag. For launch vehicles and spacecraft landers, the landing gear is typically designed to support the vehicle only post-flight, and are not used for takeoff or surface movement.

The Khajuraho Monuments are  in Madhya Pradesh,  situate about 175 kilometres southeast of Jhansi.  The UNESCO World Heritage are famous for their Nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures.  Most Khajuraho temples were built between 950 and 1050 CE by the Chandela dynasty. Historical records note that Khajuraho temple site had 85 temples by 12th century, spread over 20 square kilometers. Of these, only about 20 temples have survived.

At Khajuraho, scores of Jet Airways passengers experienced some frightening moments when a plane’s landing gear appeared to collapse as it touched down at an airport in India. The plane flight 9W2423  carrying 59 passengers and eight crew members arriving from Varanasi on 45 minute journey, tilted to one side and its left engine scraped along the runway in Khajuraho. The crew ordered an evacuation after the Boeing 737-800 came to a stop, and passengers slid down the plane’s inflatable slides to safety.

In statements posted on Twitter, Jet Airways described it as ‘a technical problem with the landing gear’ and said reports of a fire are untrue. Passengers spotted smoke outside the plane when the left wing landing gear collapsed, Indian media reported says Daily Mail UK.    The carrier reportedly made arrangements for transfer of outbound guests.

Though none were injured, Civil authorities would cause an investigation, meantime the airport remained closed.   Mumbai Mirror reports that on 16th Apr 2015, a team of Air India engineers from Mumbai removed the stalled Jet Airways plane from the runway of Khajuraho airport in Madhya Pradesh, three days after the aircraft's landing gear broke off on touchdown.

The airport had been closed for flights after the April 13 incident and this complicated the salvaging operation. All the heavy equipment needed for the task had to be transported by road as no plane could land at the airport with the Jet Airways' Boeing 737 lying on the runway. The equipment weighed up to 7 tonnes.

The aviation regulator, DGCA, is conducting an inquiry into the incident. With the Boeing 737 stranded on the runway, Jet Airways sought the help of Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL), which is the only agency in South East Asia that specialises in salvaging damaged aircraft.  It is stated that even if the runway was operational, the engineers would have found it difficult to transport the heavy equipment as the runway cannot accommodate widebody aircraft, which general carry such cargo.

The equipment arrived at Khajuraho around 8 am on Thursday, and the eight Air India engineers moved the plane from the runway at 5 pm. An AIESL engineer said that the plane had been damaged at eight places. "As the aircraft scraped along the runway after the landing gear collapsed, the support beam also suffered significant damage," the engineer said.  "Preparedness for aircraft clearances is one of the criteria for issuing licences to airport operators. When a Turkish Airlines Airbus 340 skidded off the runway in Mumbai in 2011, it took authorities three days to carry out clearance operations. In another incident, a SpiceJet aircraft remained stuck at Hubli airport for a few days," it is stated.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th Apr 2015.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent narration of the incident giving details of the salvage operation. While I am proud that Indian Airlines have the equipment and resources to do the rescue operations , the once monopoly Airlines, the Indian Airlines, now AirbIndia has been pushed to also ran category. With best of Aircrafts including the new Dreamliners, best of maintenance support staff including very seasoned Cabin crew ( who used to be arrogant lot in the monopoly days) they have lost major junk of Business to new comers from Private sector. It is like Ambassador and Fiats losing to new. Comers in the Auto field because of their stubbornness in not modernising