Abandoned? MD-83 Still At Indian Airport 5 Years After Emergency Landing

Raipur Airport has one unwelcome guest: a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 left in parking since 2015. The plane belongs to Bangladeshi carrier United Airways and landed in Raipur due to an engine failure in August 2015. However, since then, the airline has gone out of business and nobody has come back to claim the aircraft.

United Airways MD-83
The United Airways aircraft has been sitting on the ground for over five years. Photo: Faisal Akram via Flickr

Long grounding

The events started on 7th August 2015, when a United Airways (not to be confused with American carrier United Airlines) flight from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Muscat, Oman suffered an engine failure and diverted to nearby Raipur Airport with 173 passengers onboard.

The aircraft involved is a 27.5-year-old McDonell-Douglas MD-83, according to Planespotters.net registered S2-AEI. While the passengers eventually found alternate transport to Muscat, the plane remained in Raipur.

Bangladeshi authorities arrived in Delhi nearly three weeks after the landing to investigate the causes. However, no one came forward to claim the aircraft, repair it, and finally take it back to Dhaka. Raipur Airport only has six parking bays, which meant the United Airways flight was occupying prime capacity at the airport, prompting complaints from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to quickly return the plane.

According to The Indian Express, it was only after several letters from the AAI that a technical team arrived in Raipur in April 2016 to fit in a new engine on the MD-83. The plane conducted ground tests and was ready to fly. However, it lacked a Certificate of Airworthiness, a requirement to take off and fly to Dhaka.

In March 2016, United Airways ceased all operations and grounded its entire fleet, making obtaining an airworthiness certificate extremely hard. Moreover, the parked plane was quickly accumulating parking charges at the airport, which could need to be paid by the beleaguered carrier.

All of this meant that the aircraft has been stuck in Raipur for well over five years now, and shows no signs of leaving soon.

Adding up

Parking charges for aircraft at Raipur Airport are ₹320 ($4.4) per hour, according to New Indian Express. While this is not much for most airlines, for the United Airways MD-83, these costs have added up. The airline now reportedly owes Raipur Airport a total of more than ₹1.54 crores ($211,600). Even if someone did decide to purchase the plane and fly it out, it would be stuck footing a huge bill.

United Airways McDonnell Douglas MD-83
There are few signs that the MD-83 will be leaving Raipur anytime soon. Photo: Faisal Akram via Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, airport authorities in Raipur are eager to get rid of the aircraft and reach their full capacity of six parking bays. However, despite several letters written to Bangladeshi authorities, there has been little action. This has meant Raipur Airport is considering moving the aircraft to another part of the airport or possibly off the premises.

For now, don’t expect to see this aging MD-83 flying out anytime soon.

Have you seen this parked aircraft in Raipur? Should the government remove it from the airport? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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