AI evacuation drill comes under scanner

Pilots of Riyadh-bound flight grounded for questioning

 
The state-run airline had de-rostered a ground engineer soon after the incident in which 229 passengers on board the AI 829 had a providential escape.

AI sources said a preliminary enquiry by the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is on and that the airline has been asked to ensure availability of the two pilots for questioning.

The aircraft maintenance engineer who has been de-rostered is responsible for maintenance and for the departure of Boeing 747-400.

One of the left side engines of the 16-year-old leased aircraft had caught fire. The immediate reaction of the pilots and the emergency services of the Mumbai airport saved the lives of the passengers. The 229 people on board were swiftly evacuated through the emergency exit chutes.

The DGCA has taken up investigation into the incident and is looking into suspected fuel leak from the wings, which may have caused the fire in one of the four engines of the aircraft.

At the same time, the evacuation drill followed by Air India has come under the scanner as the slides to evacuate passengers were also seen open on the same side as the fire. The airline, however, denied that safety norms were not followed.

Air India’s executive director for corporate communications Jitendra Bhargava said the carrier had followed the proper drill in evacuating the 213 passengers and that was the reason all of them were deplaned safely.He also refuted the claims by some experts who commented on TV channels that safety norms were not followed properly as passengers were also evacuated from the left exits of the plane where the fire was on.

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