Following a string of Indian runway incidents late last year, yet another near miss has occurred. This time, a SpiceJet Boeing 737-800 overran the runway while landing at Shirdi airport. The incident occurred earlier today as the flight was arriving from Delhi.
Alarmingly, there have been several close calls involving Indian aircraft during takeoff and landing during the past year. One of these saw an aircraft land on an unfinished runway, while another resulted in a wall being struck during takeoff. Thankfully, none of these incidents have had serious consequences.
The latest incident
According to The Aviation Herald, the incident involved a Boeing 737 registered to SpiceJet as VT-SGJ. Airfleets.net shows that the aircraft was originally delivered to Air Berlin in 2005. It spent eight months serving for Blue Air in 2010, before joining the SpiceJet fleet in December 2010. As such, the aircraft is 14 years old.
The aircraft was operating flight SG-946 from Delhi to Shirdi in the South of India. Initial reports suggest that 164 people were on board the aircraft at the time. The pilots overran the 2,500m runway by around 100 feet, resting the aircraft on soft ground.
While there were no injuries reported, both pilots have been grounded as is customary in these circumstances. According to Indian news website Livemint, while the incident took place at 1630 local time, the aircraft’s occupants weren’t rescued until two and a half hours later.
Dhiren Bhosale is the airport’s director. According to livemint, he said:
“A SpiceJet aircraft shot off the runway by about 50 meters and skidded off. There is no injury to any passenger and the crew, though. Our first priority is to evacuate passengers without compromising their safety”
This single incident is a worrying part of a much bigger problem. SpiceJet is not the only Indian airline which has been affected by takeoff or landing troubles of late. In September of 2018, an Indian Airlines Boeing 737 landed on an unfinished runway being built at Male in the Maldives. The aircraft got caught in plastic debris on the runway.
A month earlier in August, a Jet Airways Boeing 737 attempted to take off from a taxiway in Mumbai. The aircraft came off the taxiway and got stuck. Another incident saw an Air India Boeing 737 strike a wall during takeoff. Alarmingly, the pilots didn’t realise the extensive damage until they were warned on the ground. Other incidents have also taken place which are not listed here.
Does Indian aviation have a serious runway safety problem? Let us know in the comments.