Turkish Airlines plane skids; Mumbai airport shut till Saturday

September 3rd, 2011 - 2:05 am ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Sep 3 (IANS) Mumbai airport’s main runway was shut down Friday after a Turkish Airlines Airbus aircraft skidded after landing and got stuck in the soft mud following heavy rains. All 104 passengers, including 11 crew, were safely evacuated.

The main runway will remain shut at least till 10 a.m. Saturday as the aircraft continues to remain stuck, an official said.

The Turkish Airlines, in a statement, attributed the incident to “excessive rainfall” at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

“About the cause of the incident, the necessary analysis and research is being done in collaboration with the local civil aviation authorities,” a spokesman for the airline said.

“The Turkish Airways flight TK-720 was arriving from Istanbul to Mumbai. Soon after landing at CSIA, it skidded off the rapid exit taxiway N8 and got stuck in the mud there,” the airport official told IANS.

The incident occurred at 4.13 a.m.

The airport’s main runway was shut for more than 24 hours severely disrupting incoming and outbound air traffic over the country’s busiest airport.

Besides half a dozen diversions and three international flight cancellations, regular operations suffered with around 30 minutes delay on the arrivals, and upto one hour on departures were reported till midnight last night.

Later in the evening, the airport authorities and Air India helped empty the stranded aircraft of the fuel on board.

A temporary pathway was prepared near the aircraft, a ground power unit was connected to the disabled aircraft and the entire cargo on board was removed.

These measures were taken to reduce the weight on the front and back sides of the aircraft before it could be towed away with cranes and trucks.

After it is removed sometime Saturday morning, the Turkish aircraft will undergo necessary technical and physical checks before it will be cleared for operations.

Meanwhile, a new aircraft requisitioned for the return Mumbai-Istanbul flight (TK-721) which was earlier scheduled for departure last evening at 18.50 hrs, finally left at 21.27 hrs.

On Friday, officials of the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation examined the aircraft.

All normal flight operations were shifted to the secondary runway since the incident.

With the secondary runway being used, departures suffered an average delay of 30 minutes, while arrivals were being delayed by around 15 minutes, the official said.

Consequent to the incident, the CSIA diverted an incoming flight from Sharjah, G9-0407 to Ahmedabad at 4.14 a.m. It later returned to Mumbai at 07.33 a.m.

Similarly, a cargo aircraft, SQ-7955 on a Chicago-Brussels-Mumbai flight was diverted to Chennai at 5.21 a.m.

SQ-422 Singapore-Mumbai flight was diverted to Bangalore, while two other services, a British Airways flight BA-199 and a cargo flight SX-015 were diverted to Hyderabad.

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