October 11, 2008

UK-Bound Flight Returns to India After Smoke Observed Onboard

Text of report by Indian news agency PTI

New Delhi, [Saturday] 11 October: A major accident was averted Saturday when a pilot of a London-bound Air India [AI] aircraft with 130 people on board detected smoke in the cockpit soon after take- off from here and returned to ground.

All the 115 passengers and 15 crew members of flight AI-111 were safe. They departed by another aircraft for London, an Air India spokesperson said after the Boeing 777-300 (Extended Range) aircraft landed under emergency conditions.

"This is certainly not a maintenance issue as the aircraft was a new one," Air India Executive Director Jitender Bhargava told PTI from Mumbai, adding the matter will be raised "strongly" with Boeing company.

This is the second time in three days that full emergency was declared at Delhi airport. On Thursday, emergency was declared when a Go Air flight from Mumbai landed here with a damaged nosewheel.

The smoke alarm alerted the pilot of the aircraft about 20 minutes after it took off from the IGI Airport [in New Delhi] at 6.50 a.m. Saturday.

The Air Traffic Control was immediately sounded by the pilot, which in turn declared full emergency at the airport. Fire brigades, ambulances, ladders and other emergency equipment were deployed close to the runway to avert a possible mishap as the plane landed safely.

The emergency was declared at the airport at 7.50 a.m. and it was withdrawn at 8.25 a.m., airport sources said.

"We are taking up the matter strongly with the Boeing company as it is a very serious issue. We cannot expect a brand new aircraft to have this kind of a problem," Bhargava said.

The Boeing 777-300 (ER) was delivered a few months ago and is among the 15 such aircraft ordered by the national carrier.

Originally published by PTI news agency, New Delhi, in English 1135 11 Oct 08.

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