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Runway shuts due to stalled aircraft

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by November 9, 2016 General
KOLKATA: The main runway at Kolkata airport had to be shut down for two-and-a-half hours on Monday after an aircraft developed a snag during take off and was stuck on the tarmac. All flight operations were shifted to the shorter, secondary runway during the crisis.

According to airport officials, Singapore Airlines flight SQ517 operated with an Airbus 330 aircraft was taxing for take-off scheduled at 11.55pm when the plane developed a snag. As the aircraft rolled into the main runway, the pilot turned the nose to align the plane with the central runway line for the take-off run, the nose wheel mechanism jammed, stalling the aircraft on the runway.

The night was a crucial time for air traffic management (ATM) team as many international flights were scheduled to land. Once the pilot radioed the air traffic control tower, operations were switched from the primary runway to the secondary strip.

To avoid confusion among pilots coming in to land, the runway lights and instrument landing system of the primary runway was shut down and those of the secondary runway switched on. “There are standard operating procedures laid out when runways are changed and they were followed,” said Airports Authority of India general manager (ATM), BK Sarkar.

The Thai Airways flight from Bangkok, Air Asia flight from Kuala Lumpur and Qatar Airways flight from Doha used the secondary runway while engineering and ground staff tried to clear the stranded aircraft with 175 passengers and crew on board. Around 2.20am the plane was moved for repairs and the primary runway reopened. The engineers fixed the snag an hour later.

Meanwhile, two passengers with health issues alighted from the flight and cancelled their journey. The plane finally took off at 3.55am with 173 passengers.

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