An Air India plane was damaged on Saturday after having to take off early, as it encountered a man and a jeep on the runway at Pune airport, NDTV reported. The plane took off after having reached a speed of 120 knots (222 km per hour).
The Pune airport is also an Indian Air Force airfield, where armed forces personnel carry out routine activities. The cockpit crew of the Air India A-321 noticed a person and a jeep on the runway, and took off earlier than desirable, resulting in the plane’s tail hitting the runway. However, the pilots carried on, taking the aircraft to New Delhi, its destination, and landed it safely.
“During take off roll while at 120 knots speed, crew saw a jeep and a person on the runway, to avoid conflict they did early rotation,” an official from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said according to PTI. “The aircraft has landed safely in Delhi.”
The aviation authority has ordered an inquiry into the incident. It has asked the Indian Air Force, which operates the Pune airfield, to preserve the recording of Air Traffic Control.
The aircraft has been withdrawn from service for the present. Air India has submitted a document to the DGCA, which says “damage observed on fuselage skin and [air] frame.” An official of the aviation regulator said it has advised Air India to remove the Cockpit Voice Recorder. Air India has also been advised to coordinate with Pune Air Traffic Control during the investigation to find the markings, if any, on the runway.