A Malindo Air Boeing 737 aborted takeoff and swerved off the runway and on to the grass on Thursday night, forcing Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) to shut down for more than 12 hours.
Flight OD-181 bound for Kuala Lumpur was carrying 139 people including seven crew members. Airport authorities said no one was hurt. Scores of flights were cancelled or diverted after the incident, spreading concern among travellers at the country’s sole international airport.
TIA resumed normal operations at 11:35 am on Friday after the aircraft was towed away from the grass. The Boeing had come to a stop 60 metres from runway 02, or the southern end of the runway on the Koteshwor side, said Raj Kumar Chhetri, general manager of TIA.
The aircraft did not suffer substantial damage. TIA officials said that a technical team from the airline arrived in Kathmandu, and that the jet was expected to be flown to Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
The Malindo Air Boeing 737 was making its takeoff roll when the pilots detected a problem, and decided to apply the brakes and abort takeoff, Chhetri said. The aircraft overran the runway and stopped on the grass 60 metres from the end of runway 02 at around 22:08 pm, he added. “The cause of the problem was not immediately known.”
Airport employees unsuccessfully tried to tow away the aircraft on Friday night. Air Asia, Air China and Jet Airways cancelled their flights scheduled for Friday morning, according to TIA. Six flights were diverted on Thursday after the incident, and they arrived on Friday.
WHAT CAPTAIN REPORTED
As per the details provided by the Malindo Air flight captain, the flight commander was forced to abort takeoff at the last moment after receiving a ‘cockpit system warning’, said Sanjiv Gautam, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan), the country’s civil aviation regulator.
“The incident happened after the pilot followed standard operating procedures,” said Gautam, quoting the flight captain. The aircraft had reached V1 speed, the ground speed at which a pilot either takes off or aborts. “Flight OD-181 decided to abort.” V-speeds are standard terms used to define airspeeds important or useful to the operation of all aircraft. Under this standard, V2 is the speed at which the aircraft may safely climb even with one engine inoperative and the speed beyond which takeoff cannot be aborted.
When an aircraft is past V1, there can be no stopping and the pilot has to continue the takeoff. On September 28, 2012, a Sita Air Dornier aircraft bound for Lukla crashed after the pilot could not abort takeoff despite knowing that there was a problem.
The investigation report said that the aircraft’s nose lifted up suddenly and its tail almost scraped the runway, and then the nose pointed downward. The Dornier slammed into the banks of the Manohara River in Bhaktapur shortly after takeoff, killing all 19 on board. CCTV footage showed that 5 seconds before the aircraft left the ground, a flash appeared in the region of the right engine. A few seconds after takeoff, the aircraft stalled and crashed 420 metres to the southeast of the threshold of Runway 02.
Thursday’s incident came one month after the crash of a US-Bangla Airlines at Kathmandu airport, which killed 51 people. In March 2015, a Turkish Airlines jet skidded off the runway during landing, forcing TIA to close for four days.
Published: 2018-04-21 09:01:22