Visakhapatnam : A major mishap was averted at Vizag airport on Sunday night after a Hyderabad-bound IndiGo aircraft hit a wild boar on the runway during take-off. There were 150 flyers and four crew members on board flight 6E-742. The plane was taking off at 10 pm when a wild boar ran into the flight path, hitting a rear wheel.
IndiGo officials confirmed that the pilot saw the boar, but it was too late to abort take-off. The crew notified Air Traffic Control (ATC), after which the runway was cleared of the carcass for the plane to return for touch down.
However, the plane could not immediately return as the damaged rear wheel failed to retract. Pilots decided it would be dangerous to land the plane with the fuel tank full and flew over the sea for 45 minutes burning fuel before landing at Vizag airport. The flight, which was supposed to reach Hyderabad by 11.15 pm, took off only at 1 am and reached Hyderabad on Monday 2.15 am.
The IndiGo statement said, “Flight 6E-742 from Vishakhapatnam to Hyderabad hit a wild boar on the runway during take-off. The captain immediately reported the matter to ATC and decided to hold over Vizag. After runway inspection, the pilot carried out a precautionary landing at Vizag airport after 45 minutes for necessary inspection.” It said at no time was safety of passengers and crew compromised.
Vizag airport director G Prakash Reddy said, “We’ve raised the issue with INS Dega, which controls the airport. We wrote to INS Dega authorities, asking them to take measures to clear wild animals from the airport area to prevent mishaps.”
The director said stray dogs also come on to the runway, but the menace of wild boars obstructing runway is more dangerous. Air Travellers Association (ATA) president D Varada Reddy said it was surprising how a wild boar entered the airport, which is fortified with a wall.
“In 1972, a cheetah had entered the airport, triggering terror. There were no compound walls at the airport at that time. Now, the wild boar menace is serious. We will bring this to the notice of the civil aviation ministry and airport authorities to take immediate measures for safeguarding the welfare of air travellers,” Varada Reddy told.
Reddy said at least six wild boars are known to be roaming round the airport’s vicinity, according to information by other airlines like Alliance Air. The runway is around 10,000 feet long and the airport is spread over 790 acres.