In a tragic incident, an Air India technician died on Wednesday after being sucked into the engine of an aircraft at the domestic terminal of the Mumbai airport.
Midday reports the mishap occurred at 8.50 pm when pilots AG Sharma and Nikhil Bhagwan switched on the engine during pushback. The technician, Ravi Subramanian(40), who was standing near the plane got sucked into the engine as he was too close.
Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani said, â€śDuring the pushback, the co-pilot mistook a signal for engine start. We are deeply saddened. We regret the tragic incident.â€ť
The Airbus 319 AI with 108 passengers and 6 crew members onboard was to take off for Hyderabad at 7.30 pm, but was rescheduled to 8.30 pm.
Police have registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC and the DGCA too has initiated an enquiry. Both the pilots have been grounded following the incident.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Virendra Mishra told Midday, â€śThe technician was standing near the towing van and did not leave the place after the aircraft pushed back. When the aircraftâ€™s engine was switched on, it sucked the technician in to it. The panchnama is in process.â€ť
Aircraft can only move forward and need external help to reverse from the parking bay. A tow van is used to push the aircraft back, and the process is carried out with an engineer positioned in front of the aircraft nose, so as to be visible to the pilots, explains a Times of India report.
An official told TOI, the aircraft's auxiliary power unit (APU) was not working and so the engine start-up procedure being followed was not a regular one. When on ground, an APU supplies power to keep the passenger cabin air-conditioned, to provide electricity and to start the engines.
A similar incident occurred in 1995 when a man on his moped was sucked into the engine of a flight, which had just landed at the Hyderabad airport.
TOI quotes a veteran as saying, â€śThat person was a bystander who was neither working at the airport, nor with any airline. He borrowed an airport pass from a policeman posted at the airport who happened to be his relative and that is how he got access to cross the runway on his moped. That was the time airport security was not very stringent and access was not tightly controlled."