Forty-eight passengers and crew members on board an Air India ATR aircraft (AI 9760 ATR) had a miraculous escape on Sunday because of deft handling of an emergency landing situation by the pilot of the aircraft. There were two cockpit crew, two cabin crew and an engineer on board the flight.
Passengers travelling in the aircraft from Silchar (in South Assam) to Guwahati were staring at a dreadful situation before landing at Guwahati airport when one of the nose wheels of their aircraft fell off after take-off.
The aircraft then hovered over Guwahati airport for about an hour, while preparing for emergency landing with just one nose wheel. The flight took off from Silchar airport at 9 am though it was scheduled to take off at 7-20 am. The delay was because of bad weather.
"We were alarmed that something was seriously wrong when one of the cabin crew started give safety demonstration for the second time after were into hour of flight. On being asked, she said some emergency situation was anticipated," said Sumanta Chaliha, noted litterateur and an engineer who was sitting at the seat number 4B in the aircraft.
"The passengers got really panicked when they saw a cabin crew evacuating heavy things such as suitcases from the cockpit of the aircraft. The cabin crew told some of the passengers that one of the nose wheels of the aircraft has fallen off triggering the panic button. Some of the women passengers including a professor from Assam University in Silchar, Dr Meghali Goswami, even fainted out of panic," Chaliha said.
A source in the airline said that after burning the fuel in the tank during hovering over Guwahati airport, the pilot, Urmila Yadav managed to land the plan safe without any damage. The fuel was burnt to reduce the weight of the plane as well as to chances of fire during emergency landing. All the passengers were deplaned safe at around 11 am.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi congratulated Urmila and co-pilot Yashu for saving the the lives of the 52 people. Gogoi spoke to Urmila over phone and conveyed his thanks to her and the co-pilot for showing alacrity, courage and dexterity by landing the flight safely.
"Hats off to you and your co-pilot for your daring and courageous act which saved the precious lives of the passengers," he added.
With inputs from PTI