Plane Hits Buffalo During Takeoff: Why A Bizarre Incident Is Cause For Concern

Passengers on a plane at the Surat airport in India weren’t harmed when the aircraft ran into an unusual obstacle during takeoff Thursday evening — a stray Indian buffalo. The plane was carrying a total of 146 passengers at the time of the incident. No one aboard the plane was harmed when the collided with the stray animal; unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the buffalo. The buffalo is believed to have died during the crash.

Prabhakar Joshi, who was on the plane when it hit the buffalo, told NDTV that he heard a loud noise. When Joshi was informed as to what happened, he counted himself and the others very fortunate.

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

The airplane suffered significant damage to the left engine, causing it to be grounded for repairs. Meanwhile, the plane’s passengers were shuttled onto an alternative flight in order to continue on to Delphi, the intended destination of the affected Boeing 737-800.

The Indian airline SpiceJet tweeted about the incident.

The company also reportedly made the following statement about the safety concerns:

“Stray animals are a growing menace in some airports. This incident has affected our regular operations and hence SpiceJet flights from Surat will now be suspended indefinitely.”

According to BBC News India, SpiceJet’s Chief Operating Officer Sanjiv Kapoor blamed the stray buffalo on lax airport security. Kapoor called the incident “simply inexcusable.”

As reported by the Hindustan Times, a spokesperson for SpiceJet pointed out that stray animals are “a growing menace” at certain airports.

He added that the buffalo was “essentially invisible” because the plane was taking off at night.

SpiceJet has taken the decisive action to suspend operation through the Surat airport so long as it’s felt that airport officials are not willing to take the steps to prevent incidents like this from occurring.

It’s not a national problem, as larger airports tend to counteract this sort of issue by using perimeter fences to keep animals like buffalo from wandering onto the runways. In 2008, the runways in New Delphi, India were brought to a standstill by a family of monitor lizards.

It can be difficult, especially for smaller airports, to figure out a way to keep wild animals like stray buffalo from wandering onto their property. Larger Indian airports have had less of an issue with wild animals. This is due to the careful construction of perimeter fences that keep them out.

The idea that a plane could hit a buffalo or other animal may not seem like such a major issue to onlookers. However, SpiceJet is not taking any chances with the safety of crew and passengers nor with the state of their airplanes.

Unless Surat and other small airports make the necessary adjustments, it’s possible other major airlines could follow SpiceJet’s example.

[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons]