CHENNAI: When Air India’s Hyderabad-Chennai flight touched down at the runway on Wednesday night, there wasn’t merely a loud squeaking as rubber made contact with asphalt. This time there was a fiery, red flame to go with it. Two of the tyres on the Airbus A320 lost their outer layer seconds after touching down and given the high friction - caught fire and burned for a few seconds.
The pilot must have had nerves of steel as he handled the tyre-burst gamely, but inside the aircraft, not one of the 155 passengers knew that anything was amiss. “Some of the passengers complained that the plane’s landing had been a little extra bumpy, but they joked that it wasn’t as bad as being on one of the smaller Bombardier planes. They had no idea that 2 tyres had burst and burned,” said an airport official, on duty at the time of the incident - 8.40 pm.
Had this happened on any of the older plans - particularly the slightly aged Boeings, there might have been a major disaster. “The biggest problem tends to occur when the nosewheel bursts on landing, but there are several fail-safes to ensure that the plane will land safely even if it does. The rear tyres are usually backed up pretty well to handle the stress of a large plane even if a tyre bursts,” said Captain Jacob, a pilot with the airline. Tyremakers like Goodyear supply a standard 30x8.8 itches for the Airbus A320 that could handle speeds up to 225 mph.
As the large bird taxied its way to the bay and parked there, engineers who checked on the damage found that tyres 5 and 6 had completely lost their outer cover.
“All the newer Airbus aircraft have multiple, tubeless low-permeability tyres and with the friction co-efficient being as high as it is while landing, these sort of bursts tend to happen. There was no instability of major crisis. The pilot was very much in control,” said an AI spokesperson.
The plane missed it’s outbound trip to Mumbai and needed to be replaced with a spare flight.