A Jet Airways bus, carrying cabin crew crashed into a stationary Air India plane at the International Airport in Kolkata. Initial reports claim that the reason for the crash was that – bus driver Momin Ali dozed off while at the wheel, and rammed into the Air India aircraft wing and propeller. The said plane has suffered extensive damage and has been grounded.
The aircraft was parked in a bay at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. The driver has been arrested under Sections 279 and 427 of the Indian Penal Code while investigations are on. Air India technical team from Delhi have been called in to assess extent of damage to the aircraft and undertake repairs.
It is believed that the cost for repairing the INR 400 crore aircraft cold run into tens of crores. It is also possible that aircraft could be completely scrapped, that could result in a loss of INR 400 crore to Air India.
The incident occurred on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 5.25 am. It was a clear and fogless morning and there was no way in which the driver could have missed seeing the aircraft VT-ABO (ATR 42) which was standing at Bay 32. The aircraft was scheduled for takeoff to Silchar and Shillong at 7.30 am and hence there were no passengers on the aircraft at the time of the crash.
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Kolkata Airport director Anil Kumar Sharma has confirmed that Ali has been put through a medical test and breath analysis. Tests have revealed that he was not under the influence of alcohol but the driver has admitted that he fell asleep while driving the bus. Passengers scheduled to fly on aircraft VT-ABO (ATR 42) had to be accommodated on other flights while complaints have been registered with Airport Authority of India (AAI), NSCBI airport police station, Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
This accident also brings to the fore the long working hours of ground staff at Indian airports. Hopefully the officials will take this incident as a signal and make changes accordingly.