Air Deccan aircraft skids off runway

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Under carriage, propeller partly damaged; passengers & crew safe, says airline

Our Bureau

Bangalore, March 11

Low-cost carrier Air Deccan's flight from Coimbatore was involved in a mishap on Saturday when it skidded off the runway after landing at the Bangalore airport.

Air Deccan's Chief Operating Officer, Mr Warwick Brady, said at a press conference that none of the 40 passengers and the four-member crew suffered major injuries in the mishap. But a few of the passengers told

Business Line

they saw a few with bleeding injuries who were rushed to a nearby clinic for treatment.

Mr Brady said the cause of the mishap was being investigated. "We are trying to find out whether it was a case of tyre burst or it was because of hard landing," he said. The ATR72 was being piloted by Capt Roger Zibr, who Mr Brady said has over 12,300 hours of flying experience on different aircraft, including 8,380 hours on the ATR.

Mr Brady said the under carriage and one of the blades of the propeller were damaged. "The damage is not substantial though we can't put a value to it immediately," he said. He said the $20-million ATR aircraft was purchased in November 2005 and has flown for over 1,000 hours. "Hopefully we may not have to scrap the aircraft," he said. Mr Brady said the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation had already been informed and some officials from there would fly down to Bangalore to investigate the cause of the mishap.

Fare refunded

Mr Brady said all the passengers had been refunded their fares while negotiations were on with some others for compensation. He said the pilot of the aircraft was a Zambian national. The airline has a total of 250 pilots, of whom 100 are foreign nationals.

"We have been forced to take foreign nationals because of a dearth of Indian pilots," Mr Brady said. He said foreign pilots were paid in dollars and hence their salaries were at least 10-15 per cent higher than those earned by their Indian counterparts. He said, as per DGCA norms, foreign pilots should have at least 500 hours of flying experience before they can be hired by the domestic airlines. In the case of Indian pilots, DGCA norms stipulate 100 hours of flying experience.

`I saw smoke from emergency exit'

Talking to

Business Line,

one of the passengers, Mr Rama S Prasad, US-based marketing consultant, said the aircraft could have caught fire as smoke started emanating out of the emergency exit as soon the aircraft skidded off the runway.

He said the pilot touched down a bit too early. "I thought the pilot landed the aircraft a bit too early and the angle of landing was not right. The aircraft landed with a big thud. Then it was in the air for a few seconds and crawled on the runway and then went off the runway into the grass," Mr Prasad said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 12, 2006)
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