Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dog on runway delays four flights

A stray dog was spotted on Mumbai Airport runway Sunday afternoon after which, two flights were ordered to go around while two waited in the parking area. The dog sighting led to flight operations being suspended for almost half-an-hour. Only later when airport private security guards took the dog out did operations resume.

An official from Mumbai Airport confirmed the incident and said that the runway was shut down between 3 pm and 3.35 pm with four aircraft of three airlines directed to wait as an animal on the runway can cause harm to the aircraft. Later, the dog was taken out and an inspection conducted before operations resumed.

Airport sources said that among the affected flights was an Indigo aircraft supposed to take off for Hyderabad at around 3.40 pm which took off at around 4.28 pm instead. Another Indigo flight arriving from Delhi was affected and air traffic control officials asked the pilot to circle until the runway was cleared. 

Similarly, a Spice Jet flight arriving from Goa as well as a Go Air flight arriving from Chennai at around 3.30pm were told to go around till the runway was cleared. Commenting on the incident, a senior official from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said, “As today is a Sunday, we will get the report about the incident on a working day after which, we will think about ordering an inquiry upon knowing the actual incident.”

An activist who earlier worked at the airport to prevent bird hits said, “There are many vulnerable areas at Mumbai Airport from where stray dogs and cats enter inside and there is a lot of work needed in these areas.

The airport is surrounded by slums so people living in these slums often break or encroach the boundary wall and open the gates of the gutter which creates a path for stray animals. There have been several instances of runway intrusions in the past as well.” Earlier on October 18, a pilot of an Indigo aircraft scheduled to depart for Kochi from Mumbai Airport had informed the Air Traffic Control tower (ATC) about a dog crossing the primary runway.

ATC checked but could not find any dog.

The confusion began when the body of a dead dog was on from the runway after this flight took off. According to sources, “The dog was observed to be brutally killed.”

Later, DGCA ordered an inquiry as an animal on the runway can harm the aircraft with dead body parts entering the flight engine, ultimately leading to disaster.

In October last year, mutilated remains of a dog was found on the city airport's runway. The pilot of an airline flying to Kochi had reported that a dog was seen crossing the primary runway. After the authorities undertook a search, the dog's remains were found. The officials came to the conclusion that animal was run over by an aircraft during its take off.

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