In a tragic accident, a service engineer at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport died when he got sucked into the live engine of an Air India aircraft. The incident occurred on Wednesday evening at around 9 pm. The engineer was identified as Ravi Subramaniam. The incident took place when the Air India flight 619 was being towed back from the parking bay in preparation for its flight to Hyderabad.
The plane’s parking brakes were not deployed
Subramaniam was standing near the aircraft nose to supervise the process as a tow van pushed the Airbus A319 back, said Air India spokesman Anil Mehta. About 100 passengers had boarded the plane. It was unclear if any of them witnessed the accident. The distance between the nose and the engine in an Airbus A319 is about 30 feet. When an aircraft is being pushed back from the parking bay, the engine is at only about 10% of its total thrust. An airline official told the Times of India that the ground staff and technicians know the area very well that should be kept clear in front of the engines.
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Airline sources said the plane’s parking brakes were not deployed, causing the plane to move forward. At the same time, the newbie co-pilot mistook a signal for starting the engine. Subramaniam, who was standing close, got sucked into the engine at bay 28 of the Mumbai airport. Moreover, the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit (APU), which is used to run the AC and lights inside the aircraft, was not working. So, the engine startup procedure being followed was not the standard one.
Air India chairman offers condolences to the bereaved family
Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani flew to Mumbai airport Thursday morning. Offering his condolences to Subramaniam’s family, he said, “We are deeply saddened and regret the tragic incident at Mumbai airport.” The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is investigating the mishap. The accident is probably the first of its kind involving an aviation worker in India.