‘Menace’ Bison Struck, Killed By Commercial Jet On Runway, Airliner Releases Statement

Plane kills stray bison

After an Indian commercial jet crashed into a stray animal Thursday, SpiceJet, the country’s fourth largest airliner, grounded planes on one of its routes. Officials from the company say the bison that was struck and killed on the runway by one of its planes was an unfortunate accident, but he believes the blames is placed squarely on the airport.

A plane on its scheduled route to Delhi from Surat was carrying 146 passengers and crew aboard when the aircraft crashed into a water buffalo that had somehow roamed onto the airport’s runway. Luckily, everyone on board the plane were safe and the plane managed to come to a halt after the animal strike. However, the bison died in the collision with the Boeing 737-800 airplane.

TV9 Gujarati carried the news coverage on its local station. A copy of the video below appears on YouTube (non-English version).

A running message about the airline incident involving he death of the bison is posted on the company’s website. It provides guests with an alternative.

“Effectively immediately. As of Friday, November 7, 2014, our flight from/to Surat is indefinitely suspended as a precautionary measure to ensure safety of passengers after one aircraft hit a stray animal on take off roll in Surat. We regret the inconvenience caused. Please call +919871803333 / +919654003333 to be re-booked on an alternate flight.”

SpiceJet Chief Operating Officer Sanjiv Kapoor spoke out against coverage from some outlets that place blame on his company for causing the plane to crash with the stray bison. He took to Twitter to express his angst, according to BBC News.

There is no actual footage available that shows the moment the plane struck the lost bison. However, one passenger recalls the loud noise he heard as if “something had hit the wheel” at the precise moment the big jet was picking up speed to takeoff from the runway. Prabhakar Josh credits perfect timing for likely preventing something more tragic that could have resulted in greater loss of life had the plane hit the Indian buffalo after getting airborne.

“If it had been seconds later, after the plane lifted off, it would have been a disaster for us.”

India as a whole has enjoyed a relatively good safety record over the past 10 years or so. Moreover, the country has seen an influx of private airliners coming into the country and an overall uptick in commercial plane travel.

Typically, airports are fortified with fences to guard against people and animals accessing the restricted zones. However, reportedly, some facilities, particularly smaller airports, may suffer from substandard infrastructure.

Many of India’s indigenous animals, like the bison, are revered for their spiritual significance. However, in June of 2008, one airport grounded 100 flights in a single day when a large number of monitor lizards paraded across runways. And in addition to buffalo species, peacocks, dogs, foxes, monkeys, antelopes, and even snakes have been a menace. Officials agree that more has to be done to prevent potential future disasters.

[Image via: The Sun]