Air India air hostess falls off aircraft, hospitalised

Air India air hostess falls off aircraft, hospitalised

The wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft was preparing to depart for New Delhi when Harsha Lobo fell on the tarmac from a height of 20 feet. (AFP file photo)

A 53-year-old female flight attendant fell off a stationary Air India plane while closing its door at the Mumbai airport on Monday, suffering serious injuries, airline and hospital authorities said.

The wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft was preparing to depart for New Delhi when Harsha Lobo fell on the tarmac from a height of 20 feet, apparently through a gap between the rear door and the step ladder, a senior Air India official said.

The incident occurred at around 6 am, the official said. Lobo suffered multiple fractures in her legs and was rushed to the Nanavati Hospital where she is being treated, the airline said. Owing to the incident, the flight AI-864, scheduled to take off at 7 am, got delayed by about one-and-a-half hours.

"In an unfortunate incident, one of our cabin crew (member), Harsha Lobo, fell down on the tarmac from the Boeing-777 aircraft door while closing it," the airline said in a statement. The statement said Air India is inquiring into the incident.

"Though full investigation will establish the reasons for the incident, prima facie it seems there was a gap between the aircraft gate and the step ladder, through which she slipped off 20 feet down on the tarmac," an official of the airline said. The airline's safety department has called all the people related to the incident on Tuesday as part of its probe, the official added.

The Nanavati Hospital said a cabin crew member of the Air India flight was brought to the hospital at 7 am after she suffered "serious injuries". "The patient is suffering from right leg compound fracture, a fracture in both heels and soft tissue injury in chest, abdomen and lower spine. She also suffered a sprain in the neck (cervical spine)," it said in a statement.

The woman is under observation and is being treated by Dr Prakash M Doshi, director of orthopedics and traumatology, Nanavati Hospital's Chief Operating Officer Dr Rajendra Patankar said.

Last week, 136 passengers and crew on board an aircraft of Air India Express, which is the low-cost international arm of the national carrier, had a miraculous escape after the plane hit a wall and suffered extensive damage while taking off from Tiruchirappalli airport for Dubai.

Despite the extensive damage to the belly of the aircraft, the Boeing 737 continued flying for nearly four hours, before being recalled by the airline and made to land in Mumbai in emergency conditions. Earlier in September, about 370 passengers on board an Air India flight AI-101 between New Delhi and New York had a narrow escape after the B 777 planes instrument landing system failed.

This happened when the aircraft was about to land at New York's JFK airport, forcing the crew to abort the landing and do a go around. Air India generally operates flights on its domestic routes with smaller planes such as A320s but deploys bigger planes to key destinations such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, among others to meet the increased passenger demand during festival periods such as Dussehra, Diwali and Holi.

Besides B777, it will also operate its 423-seater, double-decker Boeing 747 aircraft to Mumbai and Kolkata from New Delhi, starting Tuesday as part of this strategy.