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Tail strike damages IndiGo jet on landing at Kolkata: Narrow escape for 170

COMMENT: There has been a spate of glitches in the air in the past one year. While the reason for the tail strike at Kolkata is not known, the Patna anomaly points the finger at the system we are in! Nobody has any responsibility - or, we can't pin anyone down. The faultline is institutional. And we want to become a Super-Power right away!

KOLKATA, Jan 5: An IndiGo plane from Dhaka had a tail strike during landing at Kolkata on Monday, according to a late report. The flight was carrying about 170 passengers and crew. The aircraft was brand new.

There was substantial damage to the tail. The aircraft, 6E 114 operating on Airbus A321neo, VT-ILR, was grounded for repairs and the incident is being investigated.

"On 2nd January 2023, flight 6E 114 operating on A321, VT-ILR had a tail strike during landing at Kolkata. The aircraft was declared grounded at Kolkata for assessment and repairs. The incident is being investigated in detail," IndiGo said in a statement.

"IndioGo Airbus A321N (VT-ILR, built 2021) experienced extensive tailstrike damage on flight #6E1859 between Dhaka, Bangladesh and Kolkata (VECC), India. Damage was detected after landing," the JACDEC tweeted.

What is a tail strike

A tail strike is when the tail of an aircraft strikes the ground or any object while landing or takeoff. It's a rare mishap. In takeoff it happens due to PF (pilot flying) error in fixing the centre of gravity during pullback or rotation, or takeoff weight entry, or due to a fault in stabilizer or due to low speed at the point of lift while in landing the main factor is approach speed. But the dynamics is the same. In the few recent cases abroad, pilot error led to the mishaps. The length of the aircraft also enhances the risk while taking off - when the engine thrusts the nose up if the speed is low the wings won't give the lift and the tail will strike. And that is the aerodynamics. (When the nose begins to rise, within four seconds the liftoff must happen, in most models.) According to Boeing, a tail strike during landing is more dangerous and damaging because the tail has to absorb large amounts of energy instead of the landing gear which is supposed to touch the runway first.

However, the procedures for landing and takeoff for the aircrafts currently in service across the globe vary from plane to plane and the pilot needs to have aircraft-specific training. In new aircrafts that will roll out of assembly lines in future there will be a mechanism built in to automatically prevent tail strike, independent of the pilot.

The following are some of the other incidents reported in the last about one month's time. There have been dozens of mishaps in the past one year.

Air India Paris flight makes turnback

NEW DELHI: An Air India flight from Delhi for Paris had a turnback and made emergency landing after a technical snag was detected in its flap mid-air on Wednesday. The flight AI143 carrying over 210 passengers took off at 1:28 pm from the Indira Gandhi International Airport and landed back at 2:25 pm.

The Air India B787-800 aircraft VT-AND operating flight AI143 from Delhi to Paris was involved in an air turnback due to a "Slats Drive" snag message, it was officially stated.

Another bird-hit at Patna airport

PATNA: A GoAir flight from Bengaluru had to make an emergency landing at Patna airport due to a bird-hit on Tuesday. All 142 passengers and six crew were safe.

The fan blades of one of the engines were damaged. The plane, which was scheduled to fly to Delhi in its next flight, had to be grounded. Hundred passengers booked for Delhi were accommodated on alternative flight and the rest 75 rescheduled their flights or sought refund.

Bird-hit mishaps are very common in Patna airport. It is regularly appearing in the news for over a year now that the abattoirs and meat shops around the premises are attracting birds that feed on the waste. A bird-hit led to the failure of one of the engines on a Patna-Delhi SpiceJet aircraft and its left wing caught fire on June 19 last year.

The Hindustan Times had reported: "Patna district magistrate Chandrashekhar Singh, who is a member of the airport environment committee, told HT last year they have asked the municipal corporation to make permanent arrangements for the meat vendors away from the airport. He did not respond to calls or text message on Tuesday."

IndiGo Phuket flight aborted

NEW DELHI: An IndiGo 6E-1763 scheduled for Phuket in Thailand took off at 6:41 am but returned to the bay at around 7:31 am at the Delhi airport on Tuesday due to a technical glitch.

In an official statement, the airlines said, “IndiGo flight 6E1763 operating from Delhi to Phuket today experienced a technical issue after take-off from Delhi. The aircraft returned back to Delhi for necessary maintenance."

Another aircraft was arranged for the passengers who deboarded safely.

Air India Dubai flight lands in Mumbai

MUMBAI: A Dubai-bound Air India A320 aircraft departing Hyderabad was diverted to Mumbai after it developed a technical glitch, on December 17. According to the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the aircraft suffered loss of the yellow hydraulic system. The aircraft AI-951 was carrying 143 passengers. The plane landed safely and was towed to the bay.

IndiGo's Doha flight diverted

MUMBAI: On December 2, an IndiGo flight from Kannur to Doha was diverted to Mumbai because of a technical failure. There was problem with one of the three hydraulic systems. The flight landed safely.

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