An old tractor with faulty brakes and an untrained driver was all that was needed to ground a huge cargo plane in Chennai airport for two days.
According to airport sources, the Qatar Airlines freight aircraft, after being loaded with cargo, was being pushed back by the tractor. The tractor had poor brakes and could only be stopped with a ‘wheel choke’ — a secondary stoppage device.
Though nothing happened to the aircraft at that time, the unimaginable happened after the tractor was unhooked from the freight carrier.
The untrained tractor operator, instead of driving clear, reversed the vehicle and hit the aircraft. “This damaged the plane quite badly, which is why it was grounded for two days,” said an official.
Considerable expense was incurred by the airline to repair the aircraft, the sources said.
Airport Director HS Suresh said that despite Airports Authority of India having issued strict orders that ground handling operations have to be carried out only by the authorised agencies, untrained personnel sometimes are found handling the equipment.
In this case, the operations were being carried out by a private non-entitled agency. It continued to undertake sensitive ground handling operations using outdated equipment and untrained manpower. An investigation has been ordered into the accident, sources added.