Disaster averted: Jeep on runway forces Air India plane to lift off early from Pune

NEW DELHI: A person and a jeep on the runway reportedly forced an Air India aircraft on taking off roll at Pune to do “early rotation” — meaning lift the nose wheel off the ground earlier — to avoid a mishap. This early rotation led to the Airbus A321 — which had almost 190 people on board — to have a tail strike, with its undercarriage getting damaged, but the plane took off safely.
The incident happened on Saturday morning when the A321 (VT-PPU) was operating as AI 852 from Pune to Delhi. “During the take-off roll, while a speed of 120 knots (about 222 kmph), the crew saw a jeep and a person on the runway. To avoid conflict, they did an early rotation. The A321 had a tail scrape during taking off from Pune. It has safely landed at Delhi. AI has been advised to remove the cockpit voice recorder (CVR),” said a senior DGCA official. The flight had 180 passengers on board.
Since Pune is a defence airfield operated by Indian Air Force, sources said: “IAF has been requested to preserve ATC recording for investigation.”
A senior DGCA official said: “Crew has been off rostered. We will have interactions with them shortly.”
An AI spokesman said: “The 321 aircraft scheduled to operate AI 825 to Srinagar was observed to have certain marks towards the empennage area. This aircraft had arrived from Pune as AI 852. It has been withdrawn for the detailed investigation. The CVR and SSFDR (flight data) readouts would be carried out and the findings shared appropriately.”
“While the probe is on, the action of the pilots saved a potential disaster that would have occurred had the plane rammed the jeep on the runway. No vehicle or person is supposed to be on the runway when an aircraft taking off or landing. That is a recipe for disaster,” said a pilot.
In Video:Pune: Narrow escape for passengers, as jeep on runway forces Air India flight to lift-off early

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