It was nothing short of a providential escape for all 130 passengers and six crew members on board an Air India Express flight to Dubai early on Friday when the aircraft's wheel hit an airport wall in Trichy during take-off, an experienced flight navigator said.
The flight, while taking off at 1.20 a.m. on Friday from the Tiruchirappalli Airport in Tamil Nadu hit the airport's compound wall that was about five feet high.
"On the runway, there are markings including the lift-off mark. By the time the aircraft reaches the liftoff mark, it would have gained the necessary speed and power to take off safely.
"By the time the plane crosses the compound wall, it would have gained about a height of 300-500 feet," the navigator told IANS preferring anonymity.
Queried about the reason for the aircraft's wheels touching ed a five-foot wall, he said: "The aircraft could have been overloaded. Hence it was not able to gain sufficient speed and power to gain sufficient height after lifting off at the takeoff mark on the runway. The airfield temperature is also a factor."
The other reason could be the aircraft's engines did not generate sufficient power to touch the required speed to take off and gain the needed height, he said.
The pilot would know whether the aircraft has gained sufficient speed for the take off at about halfway to the take-off point.
According to him, there is sufficient distance between the take-off mark and the airport's compound wall.
"In case a pilot decides not to take off, then there is sufficient runway distance to stop the craft," the navigator added.
According to him, normally the aircraft would have gained a speed of about 300 kmph while taking off.
He recalled a similar accident on April 26, 1993, when 55 people were killed on board an Indian Airlines plane that crashed on take-off after apparently hitting a truck carrying cotton bales.
"The passengers of flight IX-611 have to thank their Gods. It is certainly not a good show for the pilots of the flight," the light navigator added.
(With inputs from agencies.)