Air India pilots lands Airbus on under construction runway in Maldives

- A Monitor Report 09 Sep, 2018  |    -      +
New Delhi: An Air India flight 263 with 136 passengers on board landed on an under construction runway at Male airport, Maldives, on September 7. 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), an aircraft which had just been delivered new to Air India in December 2017 landed on wrong (under construction) runway at Male. All the 136 passengers and crew on board are 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.

Indian Civil Aviation Authority (DGCA) suspended license of both the pilots.

According to sources on the ground, the aircraft received serious damage to its both landing gears. Wheels and brake system suffered serious damage and need to be replaced.

The aircraft was towed to a maintenance section of the airport about an hour after landing on the wrong runway.

Performing a major repair to an aircraft in the remote islands of the Maldives isn’t likely to be an easy or cheap fix.

Unfortunately, a couple of Air India pilots didn’t get the message that the new runway wasn’t open yet.

“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.”

The international gateway to the Maldives is the Velana International Airport (MLE) near the capital city of Male, the new runway isn’t operational quite yet. In order to handle larger aircraft and more frequent flights, the airport is building a longer runway parallel to its existing 10,500-foot one.

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