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Special : "Panel falls off Air India Dreamliner mid-air"

A large panel in the belly of a Bangalore-bound Dreamliner of Air India fell off mid-air, putting about 150 passengers on board at a grave risk, but the aircraft landed safely.

The DGCA is probing the incident which occurred on Saturday when an 8X4 feet panel in the fuselage fell off while the plane was on its way to Bangalore from Delhi, leaving a gaping hole in the cargo hold, official sources said.

There were 148 persons, including the crew, on board flight AI-803 which landed safely at the Bangalore airport, the sources said, adding that the hole was noticed by the ground staff when they came to inspect the aircraft for its return journey.

The missing part was taken out of a brand new Dreamliner (VT-ANO), AI's 9th B-787 which had landed here just days back and is awaiting certification to begin commercial flying, and taken to Bangalore. Only after this part was fitted in the aircraft grounded in Bangalore (VT-ANK) could the plane fly again after a delay of almost 10 hours. However, now the brand new "Christmas tree" VT-ANO is grounded in Delhi, awaiting the part from Boeing! 

About This Flight :
  • Flight number: AI803
  • Callsign: AIC803
  • Aircraft : Boeing 787 Dream)Liner 
  • Registration : VT-ANK
  • Airline: Air India
  • From (F): Delhi (India)
  • To (T): Bangalore (India)
  • Distance: 1737km, 938nm
  • Estimated flight time: 2h 27m

Image : TOI

Confirming the incident, airline officials said a panel had fallen off but was replaced and the aircraft was cleared for flights.

“Yes, there was a gaping hole. During the normal transit inspection, it was observed. Engineers immediately rectified it,” an AI official said requesting anonymity.

“It was not an emergency. There was no safety problem,” he added.

This is the latest in a series of troubles hitting Boeing's latest commercial aircraft, the Dreamliner. This January, the US aviation regulator had grounded Dreamliners globally and they resumed flying only in May after the fears caused by its battery overheating were resolved. 

But even after the aircraft resumed flying, airlines have been reporting troubles with it. AI recently had oven overheating in its aircraft and then the electric systems of ovens were changed in all its B-787. AI flies this aircraft on both domestic and international routes. It flies on Delhi-Bangalore, Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Kolkata routes apart from long-haul flights between Delhi and London, Frankfurt, Paris and Australia. AI's turnaround banks heavily on this plane. 

News - The Hindu / TOI
Image - Wikipedia

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