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Plane removal complicated

  • Technicians face new problem: sinking of tyres, engine on grassy land
- SANGAM PRASAIN, KATHMANDU
 Plane removal complicated

Mar 7, 2015-

The Hercules arrived from India with the needed equipment on Thursday. The Air India technicians who arrived on the giant plane promptly set about getting the Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 off the grass and to the hangar. They inflated air bags on the soggy grass to stabilise plane’s belly and wings. But then they hit another snag and no one knows how long the recovery will now take.

On Friday, the recovery team discovered that the plane was sinking into the soft soil that the plane was mired in. Its left rear tyres have sunk deeper and its left engine is resting on the grass. According to authorities, the crew would be working round the clock to get the plane positioned just right before it can get towed away.

In light of the new developments, Tribhuvan Interna-tional Airport (TIA) authorities have now extended the restrictions placed on all international flights until Saturday morning. The flight had skidded onto the grass on Wednesday morning.

“The aircraft’s body, which was lifted on Friday morning with the support of airbags, tilted off balance late in the evening because the aircraft lost its nose gear, which would have helped prop up the plane,” said Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

“As we have not been able to ascertain the aircraft recovery time, the flight restriction time has been extended until Saturday morning,” said Suman during a press conference at the TIA on Friday afternoon.

“So far, we have completed the ground-levelling work, wherein we poured gravel over the uneven surface that the plane came to rest over,” he said. On Friday morning, the 126-tonne aircraft, with 15 tonnes of fuel in its right wing, was lifted with the help of airbags. The nose of the plane has now been lifted with tyres onto a lorry and the rest of the plane was stabilised by Friday afternoon.

If the team can get past the new problem brought about by the soft soil, the craft will be pulled out from the grass and onto the runway with the use of a ‘push-back’ truck, which should clear the runway.

On Wednesday morning, the Turkish jet skidded off the runway with 224 people on board and came to rest with the left landing gear on the grassy shoulder and the right one on the runway, restricting all international flights.

Three tyres of the left landing gear have been destroyed completely and the recovery team has succeeded in replacing one of the tyres. For the clearance work to continue, all damaged tyres need to be replaced, TIA officials said. The shutdown of the only international airport of Nepal has left thousands of passengers stranded over the last three days.

 

Published: 07-03-2015 08:56

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