Passengers of a Dubai-bound Air India Express flight had a miraculous escape when their aircraft's wheels hit a perimeter wall during take off here in the early hours of Friday, officials said.
The plane, with 136 passengers and crew members on-board, continued for Dubai and was eventually diverted to Mumbai after Trichy airport officials reported to the pilots that the aircraft might have come in contact with a wall.
Nobody was hurt in the incident and the aircraft landed in Mumbai at 5:35 am after being in flight for four hours, officials said.
The pilots of the aircraft have been "derostered" pending investigation, Air India Express said in a statement.
"Flight IX-611 took off from Trichy for Dubai around 1.30 am Friday. It was reported by Trichy airport officials that they have observed that the aircraft might have come in contact with the airport perimeter wall.
"The matter was conveyed to the pilot in command. The pilot in command reported that the aircraft systems were operating normally," it said.
Tiruchirappalli Airport Director K Gunasekaran said Central Industrial Security Force personnel on duty had informed the air traffic control here about the incident, following which the air traffic controller (ATC) informed the pilots about it.
"Soon after the incident, the pilots were informed by the ATC. The pilots reported all operations normal. So we allowed them (to proceed)," he said.
Officials said the plane's wheels had hit the wall.
The airline said it was decided to divert the aircraft to Mumbai as a precautionary measure.
"The flight diverted to Mumbai, landed safely around 5.35 am in Mumbai, and taxied on its own power to the parking stand," it said.
"The 130 passengers and six crew members onboard the aircraft were alighted safely. No one suffered any injuries," according to the Air India Express statement.
It said a relief aircraft and a fresh crew was arranged to continue the flight from Mumbai to Dubai.
"The pilot in command, Captain D Ganesh Babu, has a flying experience on the B737 aircraft of 3,600 hours, including about 500 hours as commander.
"The First Officer, Captain Anurag, has an experience of about 3,000 hours on the B737. The two pilots have been derostered pending investigation," it said.
The matter has been reported to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the airline is cooperating in the investigation, the statement said.
On Twitter, Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said, "Air India has constituted a Sub-Committee of the Board headed by an Independent Director of the Board for looking at all safety-related issues within the organisation including subsidiaries."
Officials said DGCA is probing the matter and the damage to the aircraft's belly, including the wheels, is being assessed.
"DGCA officers are at the site for preliminary inquiry and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau officers have also been deputed," the minister tweeted.
In the incident, an Instrument Landing System (ILS), besides the VHF the antenna on the aircraft was damaged, Gunasekaran said.
Flight operations were not affected at the Trichy airport nor were there any delays, he said.
"We have noticed damage to one runway light, ILS antenna, a monitor control unit and a small portion of the
wall," Trichy airport director Gunasekaran told reporters.
He said a VHF communication antenna on the flight was also damaged during the incident.
The reason behind the incident will be probed by the DGCA, the airport director said.
Earlier, officials from the airport, airlines concerned and others visited the site and assessed the damage, he said.
Tamil Nadu Minister Vellamandi Natrajan visited the spot and inspected the damages to the wall, adjacent to a state highway.
(With inputs from agencies.)