Ouch: Air India Express 737 Clips Wall On Takeoff

Filed Under: Air India

Well this looks… unpleasant. As reported by BBC, Air India Express flight 611 was scheduled to travel today from Trichy to Dubai, when it sustained some significant damage on takeoff.

The flight was operated by a Boeing 737-800, and hit a wall on takeoff. Like, actually. Here’s the wall:

And here’s the plane:

The flight had 130 passengers and six crew, and ended up diverting to Mumbai. Mumbai is nearly 700 miles from Trichy, so I’m a bit confused about why they decided to fly so far with such significant damage.

It’s not yet clear what exactly caused the incident to occur. The runway in Trichy is 6,115 feet long. While not long, it should be sufficient for a 737-800 to take off.

Air India has said that the two pilots had more than 6,500 hours of flying experience between them (which isn’t that much), and that they’ve been grounded pending an investigation.

As the incident was described:

Airport officials “observed that aircraft might have come in contact with the airport perimeter wall.”

“The matter was conveyed to the pilot in command. The pilot in command reported that the aircraft systems were operating normally.”

I’m still trying to make sense of what could have happened based on the pictures. The major damage is in the bottom of the fuselage, though the hole in the wall doesn’t look big enough for the fuselage to have flown through it. So I’m not sure exactly what happened there.

When I first heard about this story, the first thing that came to mind was the Qatar Airways “incident” at Miami a few years back, where a 777 hit the runway lights at the end of the runway on takeoff, due to performing a midfield takeoff. That incident caused a 46cm tear in the fuselage and 90 dents and scratches, and the pilots continued operating the flight all the way to Doha, not having realized what happened.

I’ll be curious to see what the cause of this Air India Express incident was…

(Tip of the hat to @bladeclubber and @redr239, featured image courtesy of Jakkrit Prasertwit)

  1. This makes no sense. Even experts in AV Herald are baffled. The wall was only 5ft tall and how the aircraft was essentially flying at this altitude so as to impact a 5ft wall with the underbelly at 1000 ft from the end of the runway is completely bizarre. I mean, does this not translate to the fact that they were flying at essentially an altitude of a tall man for the length of over three football fields from the runway end? Further, for the pilots to “hide it” is also odd given voice and intrument recorders capturing everything. This would have absolutely been seen (the frightening low altitude) by both passengers and pilots so far from the threshold. As well the sound of an impact must have been heard in the cabin. What the hell am I missing? The Qatar Airways flight in Miami was far more plausible.

  2. I can’t just make out how on earth did the crew even continue taking off from Trichy? I am pretty sure that the crew and the passengers would have heard some screeching noise, in that case, they should have returned back either to Trichy or airports near Trichy such as MAA, COK or even BLR! And if they didn’t hear any noise, they should have continued directly to DXB and not realize mid-way!

  3. Regarding that diversion: only speculation here, but I’d assume Air India has a maintenance base at BOM and 737s can’t jettison fuel anyway, so they’d have to circle around for quite some time to burn off excess fuel and reach maximum landing weight.

    It’s up to the investigation to say whether this was the right call, but if the pilots actually were unaware of the incident immediately after takeoff, I can see why they would fly to BOM.

  4. How did the landing gear not get ripped off and how did the engines not impact the wall, too. Both are lower than the belly of the plane, so this really makes no sense, at all

  5. @Todd: How did the landing gear not get ripped off and how did the engines not impact the wall, too. Both are lower than the belly of the plane, so this really makes no sense, at all

    Yes bizarre indeed. the only other explanation is that the belly tore something off from the ground (e.g., localizer post) which got caught in the belly stuck and THAT broke the wall.

  6. More like the reporting is a disaster, no way the aircraft was on the takeoff roll, probably taxiing to the runway

  7. Actually the belly of the aircraft hit the ILS as well as the boundary wall damaging both and the fuselage of the aircraft.

    The pilots did not realise this and continued flying towards DXB.

    Meanwhile TRV airport staff after inspections of the damage on ground informed the higher authorities who took the decision to divert the flight to BOM as they obviously did not want the plane to be stranded in DXB for repairs.

    When the pilots were informed to divert they were near MCT having flown almost 3 hours.

    By the time the flight landed in BOM it had flown a total of 4 hours with a hole in its belly!

    So this was not a nearest airport diversion it was a more precautionary step to get back the plane to its base.

    A highway runs parallel to the runway boundary wall with the aircraft flying so low there was a possibility of clipping some vehicles on the highway also.

  8. In these parts, drunken pilots have recently taken off airplanes preparing to depart (this of Fly Dubai KTM DXB). South Asia and Southeast Asia are the wild west of aviation safety.

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