What was supposed to be routine flight for passengers of the low-cost Indian carrier SpiceJet turned into a nightmare after the Boeing 737 they were on collided with a stray buffalo as it was about to take off. While the incident itself might sound funny, it was certainly no laughing matter for the 146 passengers and crew on board the flight from the Western Indian city of Surat. SpiceJet Flight SG-622 was on its way to the national capital, New Delhi. The incident happened on Thursday evening, at around 7 p.m. local time, reports NDTV.
According to India Today, the airport authorities had not noticed a breach in the airport fence that was used by the buffalo to get inside the airport premises. As it was already very dark, it was not possible for anyone to spot the buffalo on the runway, the report adds. Nevertheless, the Indian civil aviation ministry has taken serious note of the issue and disciplinary action is likely to follow. The unfortunate buffalo did not survive the impact.
Initially, there was confusion between the pilots and the airport officials regarding the actual nature of the animal that was hit. Following the impact with the stray buffalo, the pilot aborted the takeoff sequence and brought the plane to a complete halt. Passengers sitting inside the plane say the impact with the buffalo was heavy and very noticeable.
The true picture of the damage was only clear by daylight. However, it was clear that the aircraft had received significant damage to the engine as a result of the accident. Following the impact, the pilot maneuvered the aircraft to a parking area, where officials assessed the damage to the aircraft
In a statement issued by SpiceJet soon after the accident, the company’s spokesperson explained the situation.
“A Surat-to-Delhi SpiceJet aircraft, SG-622, carrying around 140 passengers excluding crew members on Thursday hit a buffalo during take-off roll at Surat airport. All passengers and crew members are safe and will be provided an alternative arrangement soon.”
The passengers were flown to Delhi in a separate aircraft at around 10:55 p.m. the same night.
Meanwhile, SpiceJet has decided to suspend its operations at the Surat Airport following the breach of security by a buffalo.
“Suspension will be effective as soon as possible,” an airline spokesperson confirmed.
India, which reveres the cow, is known for its streets that are occasionally taken over by cows. This is, however, the first time a buffalo has managed to get on to an airport runway.
[Images Via NDTV/Wikimedia Commons]