May 13, 2007

Aircraft lands on wrong runway, passengers safe

Visakhapatnam, - At least 70 passengers of Paramount Airways flight from Hyderabad had a miraculous escape Saturday when the aircraft landed on the wrong runway at the INS Diga airport of this coastal city.

Airport officials said all passengers and crewmembers were safe.

The ATR aircraft landed on the newly built runway, which is yet to undergo in-flight calibration, instead of the runway currently in use.

Airport Traffic Controller C. Pattabhi said the pilot got confused and landed on the wrong runway and lost control. The aircraft overshot the runway and halted in bushes on muddy land.

A major disaster was averted as the aircraft halted a few metres before the spot where construction material was dumped.

Fire tenders and ambulances were rushed as a precautionary measure. While nobody was hurt, the incident created panic among passengers.

Following the incident all flights to and from Visakhapatnam were cancelled for the day.

The flight had taken off from Hyderabad at 9.55 a.m. and landed at 10.55 a.m.

The director general of civil aviation has ordered an inquiry.

The airport, which is managed by the Indian Navy and the Airport Authority of India (AAI), recently completed construction of 10,000 feet new runway. The in-flight calibration of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) by the AAI was scheduled to be taken up in a couple of days.

The necessary approval for using new runway from the director general of civil aviation was expected by the month-end.

There were also plans to invite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A.K. Antony to inaugurate the facilities, including the night-landing facility.

The incident might affect efforts of authorities to improve air connectivity and the facilities as the airport's image was hit by frequent inundation during monsoon.

Flights were cancelled for several days last year and in 2005 due to inundation of the airport during heavy rains.

--- IANS


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