Update: There is some clarity on how the incident actually happened. Officials have also identified the victim.
In a horrific accident, a man has died after he was sucked into the engine of a parked aircraft in India. According to the Hindustan Times, the incident happened at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, which serves the city of Mumbai in western India. Initial reports say that the man was an employee of India’s national carrier Air India and was working as ground staff for the company. The incident occurred on an aircraft that was being prepared for a short haul flight (AI 619) to the city of Hyderabad.
The circumstances in which the accident occurred are unclear, although in a statement issued by Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani, the incident is said to have happened during the pushback of flight AI 619. Efforts are still on to retrieve the body of the man, which remains stuck inside the aircraft.
The statement issued by Ashwani Lohani read, “An Air India technician died in a mishap during pushback of flight AI 619; the incident is being investigated. We are deeply saddened and regret the tragic incident at Mumbai airport.”
Confirming the incident, an official from the Mumbai airport said, “The body is still stuck in the engine, efforts are going on to retrieve it.”
The identity of the man killed in the incident has not been revealed.
An investigation would be launched by the Airline as well as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Indian equivalent of the FAA. Tweets are already flying in about the horrific accident.
An Air India ground staff has been sucked in by an aircraft engine at Mumbai airport. Worst such case in recent years. @airindiain
— Tarun Shukla (@shukla_tarun) December 16, 2015
Air India Technician Sucked Into Aircraft Engine At Mumbai Airport, Dies
— Aditya Choudhary (@Aditya_1977) December 16, 2015
@GeorgeHatcher Air India technician died in a mishap during push-back of flight AI 619, is being investigated: Ashwani Lohani, Air India CMD
— Vikant Sahay (@vikantsahay) December 16, 2015
Officials have identified the victim as Ravi Subramaniam. According to NDTV News, the horrific accident could have been the result of the pilots and the ground staff not following standard operating procedures.
The Aircraft involved in the incident was an Airbus A319 – which is a small narrow body aircraft. In an internal e-mail chain by Pradeep Singh Rawat who is a maintenance manager of the private airline IndiGo in Mumbai, he revealed that another man who was standing next to Ravi had a lucky escape after he managed to duck and avoided being sucked into the engine.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has already instituted an inquiry into the gruesome incident and has grounded both the pilots who were in charge of the aircraft that was supposed to take off in minutes. The actual reason behind the incident would only be known after the inquiry is complete. However, initial impressions are that the aircraft started moving unexpectedly and that no chocks (or wedges) were placed beneath the wheels after the plane was towed towards the runway. There was also a lack of co-ordination between the ground staff and the pilots.
In the email thread, Rawat writes;
“The helper, ET Shinde, removed the two bar and in all this time, the technician was facing the tow truck with his back towards the engine. In the meanwhile as per information, captain got taxi clearance from ATC (Air Traffic Control) and he was informed by co-pilot the [area around the] aircraft is clear. The technician (was) still on headset and with his back still facing the engines (when the) aircraft started to move with both engines on. With no chocks placed, the aircraft started moving and sucked the technician still on headset. The helper who was (witness) to this incident immediately sat down and got saved.”
[Image via Andrew Thomas/Flickr]