SpiceJet Aircraft Hits Buffalo on Surat Runway; DGCA Orders Probe

After a SpiceJet aircraft carrying 140 passengers from Surat to New Delhi had a narrow escape at Surat airport where the plane hit a stray animal, the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered an enquiry and alerted all airports on safety norms.

Budget passenger carrier SpiceJet suspended its services to Surat indefinitely after one of its aircraft had a run-in with a stray animal late Thursday night."Last night a stray buffalo hit one of our aircraft on take-off roll at Surat airport. The buffalo was essentially invisible against a dark background," a spokesperson for the airline said. (It may be noted that buffalo is always dark in colour.)

According to the spokesperson, the services from Surat will be suspended indefinitely due to aircraft being grounded and to await results of investigation along with corrective measures that will be taken by the airport authorities.

The Boeing 737-800 flight no.SG 622 from Surat to New Delhi was carrying 140 passengers and six crew. All are reported to be safe.

"All passengers and crew were safe, however the aircraft was impacted quite severely and hence was grounded. An alternate aircraft was arranged by SpiceJet for the passengers who departed for New Delhi," the spokesperson added.

Safety experts feel that the incident might have had dire consequences for the on-board passengers as trying to avoid the animal at such high speed could have resulted in the aircraft overturning or going off the runway.

"This is a serious incident in which there could have been many fatalities. The airports authority needs to secure the runway parameters by erecting walls or other methods," H.S.Khola, former chief of DGCA, told IANS here.

"Such incidents are more prevalent around those airports which are surrounded by villages. In such cases it is very important to have necessary robust and effective ways to keep out the stray animals."

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