CHENNAI: A minor lapse in judgement on the part of an aero bridge operator left a gaping hole in the body of a GoAir plane, minutes after it landed at the Chennai airport on Friday morning.
According to sources in the air traffic control division, the flight G8-305 arrived at 6.45 am from Mumbai and was rushing to stay on course for its connecting run to Port Blair. “Even as the plane pulled into the bay and came to a stop, the aero bridge was already moving towards it. It must have been moving faster than the nominated docking speed and the operator missed the mark and slammed it into the aircraft’s body, just beside the door,” said the source.
Though the rubber and metal structure was retracted quickly, the damage was already done. Airport sources quoting people on site alleged that the aero bridge operator was talking on the phone when the incident occurred. However, since the operator is an employee of the company that handles aero bridges and not a direct employee of AAI, it could not be verified. Police said the operator re-docked the aero bridge and the crew disembarked the 168 passengers. “They said they heard a thud and a slight jerk but nothing more. There was no harm done and they all left the place quickly,” a police officer said.
Almost all the people involved pointed fingers at the operator of the aero bridge at bay number 28.
“Turn-around times are crucial for airlines these days and he was in a hurry. We will probe it to find what went wrong. At the outset, it looks as though it was a case of young blood,” said an official. He also explained that the reinforced metal and rubber tubing of an aero bridge can cause considerable damage to an aeroplane if it is moving at a reasonably high speed.
After assessing the damage, GoAir engineers and Airports Authority of India (AAI) staff concluded that the Airbus aircraft required extensive repair work. “It appears to be damaged and will require at least 2 days of work. The plane will be grounded till then. The DGCA will send an investigation team to probe the incident and only after their clearance will the plane be certified to fly again,” said Captain Deepak Shastri, director of the Chennai airport.