On 12 October, an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 (VT-AYD) from Tiruchirapalli, India to Dubai as IX611 hit runway approach lights and the airport perimeter wall (*) during take-off, the airline confirmed in a statement.
Captain D. Ganesh Babu – the pilot in command – reported that all aircraft systems were operating normally, but nevertheless it was decided to divert to Mumbai.
Based in flightradar24 data, the pilots didn’t know (or refused to accept) that the aircraft hit the airport infrastructure as they continued their journey up to 36,000 feet and for a long time: the take-off was at 19:49 (UTC) but the aircraft only reached Mumbai at 00:08 (UTC) – 4 hours and 19 minutes into the flight; presumably the flight nearly reached Oman.
All 130 passengers and the 6 crew members have safely left the aircraft. Passengers were provided with appropriate refreshments awaiting their relief aircraft with – according to the airline – “a fresh set of crew“.
Both captain Ganesh Babu and captain Anurag (operating as first officer) have been grounded pending an investigation by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Government of India, to which Air India Express is fully cooperating with the investigation.
(*) Note from editor: in a statement, the airline confirmed that the aircraft hit the airport perimeter wall. It’s currently unsure that the damage to the wall was made by the debris of the ILS infrastructure or by the aircraft itself.