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Jet Airways Boeing 737 hits Kingfisher Airlines Airbus A321 at Mumbai – Update 1

In the early hours of October 23, at about 02:05 local (20:35-1 UTC) a Jet Airways Boeing 737-800 registration VT-JBR with 122 passengers and an unknown number of crew [we estimate 8], was being pushed back from parking bay 85 at Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, to perform flight 9W-540 from Mumbai, India to Muscat, Oman. The wing-tip of the Boeing hit the tail and stabiliser of a Kingfisher Airlines Airbus A321-232 registration VT-KFQ which was parked on the adjacent parking bay, number 84. There were no crew or passengers on-board the Kingfisher aircraft.

The passengers of the Jet Airways aircraft were de-boarded normally, and safely, via stairs, and sent to Muscat on a replacement aircraft after a delay of almost seven hours.

Both aircraft have been grounded and the extent of damage is being evaluated. The incident has been reported to the regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) who has suspended three ground workers. It is not clear whether the suspended workers are employees of Jet Airways or their ground handlers Cambata Aviation.

Both airlines have put out a statement.

Kingfisher Airlines says

At around 2 am this morning, a Kingfisher Airlines A-321 aircraft (which was parked at the appropriate place for a night halt) was hit by a Jet Airways aircraft while the Jet Airways aircraft was pushing back from the adjacent parking bay. The wing tip of the Jet Airways aircraft hit the left hand stabiliser of our aircraft and the extent of the damage is being evaluated. Meanwhile, our aircraft has been grounded.

An engineering team was carrying out maintenance work on one of the engines of our aircraft at that time and there were no guests or crew on board.

The matter has been reported to the DGCA and is being investigated by them.

Jet Airways says

In a ground incident at Mumbai Airport on October 23, the left wing of a Jet Airways Boeing 737 during push back, hit the stabilizer of an aircraft of Kingfisher Airlines. The incident is being investigated in coordination with the authorities.

Passengers on board the flight 9W 540 to Muscat were flown to their destination by another aircraft.

Jet Airways regrets the inconvenience caused to its guests.

Mumbai airport (VABB) Apron D map

If one looks at the map of the airport, the only way for the left wing tip of the Jet 737 to strike the left tail stabiliser and fin assembly of the Kingfisher A321 would be if the the Jet plane was pushed back out of bay 85, facing south-east and it was moving FORWARD. This would imply a very high level of carelessness by the operational team, especially on the ground.

One has to feel sorry for Kingfisher. The airline is already facing a severe aircraft availability crunch due to widespread grounding of its fleet, which in turn is due to problems the airline has with its engine vendors. A large capacity aircraft which is deployed on trunk routes is needlessly taken out of service. Talk about clipping your competitor’s wings.

Update 1 – October 24, 2010

The Government of India issued a release

DGCA Initates Inquiry in the Incident in Mumbai Airport today – One Ground Personnel Suspended and two Derostered

A ground incident took place at the Mumbai airport today, at about 1.50 am. During ‘pushback’ from bay No. 85, a Jet Airways aircraft hit a stationary Kingfisher Airlines aircraft parked in bay No. 84, causing damage to the Left horizontal stabilizer of the Kingfisher Airlines aircraft.

Preliminary facts prima facie revealed certain lapses on the part of ground technical personnel responsible for pushback. Proper procedure was not followed for the push back operation. Overall there was no coordination between the ground crew.

This incident has been classified as ‘serious incident’ and an inquiry has been ordered under Rule 77C of Aircraft Rules 1937 by an Inquiry Officer. Pending investigation, one technical personnel has been suspended and two other are being derostered.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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