Directorate General of Civil Aviation is probing the incident which occurred on Saturday when an 8X4 feet panel in the fuselage fell off as the Air India plane from Delhi was landing, official sources said here today.
The panel fell off as the plane made a hard landing at the airport, leaving a gaping hole in the cargo hold area of the aircraft. It was later found from the airport premises, the sources said.
There were 148 persons, including the crew, on board flight AI-803 which landed safely, they said, adding that the hole was noticed by the ground staff when they came to inspect the aircraft for its return journey.
A spare panel was flown to Bangalore and fitted on the Boeing 787, which was later declared fit to fly. But the return flight was delayed by over nine hours, they said.
Confirming the incident, Air India officials said a panel had fallen off but was replaced and the aircraft was cleared for flights.
"Yes, there was a gaping hole. During the normal transit inspection, it was observed. Engineers immediately rectified it," an AI official said, requesting anonymity.
"It was not an emergency. There was no safety problem," he said, adding that the panel was located on the airport premises itself.
Besides long-haul international operations, Air India operates the Dreamliners on domestic routes like from Delhi to Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata.
The incident came in the wake of a series of problems faced by the new aircraft, starting with the battery fire incident that grounded all Dreamliners across the world for four months. In July, a fire broke out in an empty aircraft that was parked at Heathrow in London.