A Jet Airways flight with 161 people on board veered off the runway at Dabolim airport in Goa while aligning for take off to Mumbai early today, with 15 passengers suffering “minor” injuries during evacuation. The incident took place at around 5 AM. Flight 9W 2374 which had arrived from Dubai and was bound for Mumbai, was about to take off when it skidded off the runway. Besides 154 passengers, there were 7 crew members on board. An Indian Navy spokesperson tweeted that the runway had been made operational after the incident at 9 AM, hours before the initial deadline of 12.30 PM. The Goa airport is located in Indian Navy’s facility, INS Hansa in Vasco town, nearly 25 km from here. A total of seven scheduled flights that were to land at the airport were cancelled, while one scheduled flight and another chartered flight remained grounded. The two aircrafts will take off later during the day. The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) would jointly investigate the incident. AAIB Chief said that a three-membered team was sent to Goa from Delhi for the investigation of the accident.
In its latest update, Jet Airways, said, “We have resumed normal operations to / from Goa and normalcy has also been restored to the operations at Goa airport. Our flights 9W 475 / 476 are operating as scheduled. 7 of the 12 injured guests have already been discharged after administration of first aid. The remaining 5 injured guests are currently receiving medical attention and shall be discharged once they have been medically cleared.”
Soon after the incident, Navy officials had cordoned off the aircraft that had tilted towards its front end, while the passengers were being alighted. “After the passengers were evacuated, the operation to rescue the aircraft started. The damage to the runway was also accessed by a team of Indian Navy and Airport Authority of India officials,” the spokesperson said. “There was lot of muck on the runway as the flight was grounded on the sides of the runway,” he said. During the rescue operation hours, a chartered flight was diverted to Bangalore, while an Oman Air flight that was scheduled to arrive in morning, was diverted to Mumbai, he said.
“When people were getting down the plane, it suddenly tilted forward triggering panic and chaos,” a passenger told reporters at Chicalim cottage hospital in Vasco.
“Media makes it look like it’s nothing, but it was terrible; engine exploded, could have died; I am going to complain,” a stranded passenger at Goa airport told ANI. Another passenger said that lights started blinking & suddenly there was fire & everybody got up to run for life; luckily it happened on the ground.
“When we were getting down, we fell into a pit & got injured,” said a passenger, who was on board the Jet Airways flight. Abhishek a passenger in the flight said, “Situation was critical; nobody is helping, authority is not giving answers; don’t know what to do.”
Another Jet Airways passenger said, “After incident took place, there was no one till 20-25 minutes; after that we saw some cars, they too took around 10 minutes.” When the evacuation was on, the aircraft tilted forward, an eyewitness said, triggering panic among passengers.
— ANI (@ANI_news) December 27, 2016
Jet Airways issued three updates following the incident, in its latest statement the company said, “We are planning to deploy our wide-body Boeing 777 with a capacity to seat 346 guests, to facilitate their travel between Mumbai and Goa. We are fully cooperating with various authorities, including the DGCA and AAIB, for investigation into the incident. Guests are advised to visit the Jet Airways website or contact the Jet Airways Contact Centre for updated status on our flights to/from Goa. We will issue subsequent updates as more details are available.”
Good Show Hansa. Goa runway Opened & Ops Flights 2be accepted throughout the day 2 make up for the lost time/ back log @SpokespersonMoD
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) December 27, 2016
“Jet Airways is fully cooperating with the various authorities, including the DGCA and AAIB, for investigation into the incident,” a spokesperson from the company said.
Navy today said its prompt response in rescuing passengers on-board the Mumbai-bound flight that veered off the runway at Dabolim Airport in Goa early today, has averted the incident from turning into a “catastrophe”. “The Navy responded within 15-20 minutes and all the passengers were evacuated safely out of the aircraft. It would have turned into a catastrophe had the Navy not acted promptly,” a Naval spokesperson said.
(With inputs from agencies)