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Published on : Thursday, December 17, 2015
A service engineer, identified as Ravi Subramanium of Air India was sucked into the aircraft engine and died at the Mumbai airport. The jet flight AI 619 from Mumbai to Hyderabad was getting ready for departure when this incident took place. The Air India chairman Ashwini Lohani expressed his condolence and called the incident a ‘mishap’.
The incident took place at 20.30 hrs. when the aircraft was being pushed back from the parking bay before takeoff. An aircraft can only move forward and needs external help to reverse from the parking bay. Generally a tow van is used to push back the aircraft which is supervised by an engineer who positions himself in front of the aircraft nose so that he remains visible to the pilots.
The fight was being piloted by a new co-pilot and an experienced commander AG Sharma when suddenly Subramanium was sucked by the engine. No one knows what exactly happened. The body was badly mutilated. The passengers in the flight were horrified after they heard the incident.
Although the incident is under investigation but the probable reason for the mishap can be attributed to the failure of the Airline being unable to solve a long pending problem.
According to an airline official who told local news agencies “when an aircraft is being pushed back, the engine even when if it has been started is on idle thrust, that’s about ten per cent of its total thrust. During taxiing it’s never more than 35%. Ground staff and technicians know quite well the area that should be kept clear in front of the engines.”
Further according to airline sources the (APU) aircraft’s auxiliary power unit was not working and the start up procedure by the engine was not a regular one. When on ground, an APU supplies power to keep the passenger cabin air conditioned, to provide electricity and to start the engines. The airport sources say that most APUs do not work and one needs to crank the engine, rotate the engine fan in order to start the engine. In such a case where the APU does not work until the pilot starts one engine before a push back, when the aircraft is in the bay with an external power source.
Once the engine is started the power source is disconnected, the aircraft is pushed back and the live engine has to be revved up for the other engine to be started. It is assumed that the accident may have occurred when one of these procedures were being carried out. During a regular start-up, once the aircraft has been pushed back and is ready to start taxiing, the ground control gives start-up clearance to start engine number one and then two after ensuring that no one is near the engines.
In this case, no one is yet sure about what exactly happened but it is feared that perhaps a failure on the part of the Airline standards to maintain proper technical amenities may have led to the occurrence of this tragic incident.