Captain Kesari Singh shared the details of what had transpired in those 2-3 hours when they received the news of their missing wheel mid-air.
Credit-republicworld.com, Hardeep Puri’s Twitter
It was nothing short of a miracle when the Nagpur-Mumbai Air ambulance, which lost one of its wheels during take-off, managed to make a safe belly landing on Thursday night. However only calling it a miracle, will greatly take away from the incident that highlighted the immense presence of mind of Captain Kesari Singh who was helming the craft and who handled the unprecedented situation with calm and strategy.
Speaking to Republic TV, Captain Singh shared the details of what had transpired in those 2-3 hours when they received the news of their missing wheel mid-air, and how he managed to think through the crisis to come up with a solution.
“We were on a medical flight from Nagpur to Mumbai. We were called by ATC Nagpur saying that they have found something on the runway, are you okay. We told them everything was operational and good. We requested them to give us more information about what they had found on the runway. After 15-20 minutes they said we have found a wheel. It is very unusual. In my entire career, I have never heard that a wheel has come out of the plane. So I was unsure and asked them for a picture,” said Captain Singh.
“We lost contact with Nagpur and we came in contact with Mumbai ATC. We told them we are doing a low pass so they can see and confirm it to us that our wheel has gone. At 200 ft, they confirmed that your left wheel is not there. A critical patient was onboard. We ultimately decided that we have to burn fuel to minimise the fire hazard and then land,” he said,.
‘I told Mumbai ATC to foam the runway’
Apart from the decision to undertake a belly landing, Captain Kesari Singh had also displayed his wits after he requested the Mumbai ATC to foam a good 200-700 metres of the runway to minimise friction between the aircraft and the runway during landing. “We had 10 minutes of fuel left when we did touchdown. I had requested the Mumbai ATC to put foam on the runway for 200-700 metres to minimise the friction. I was quite confident, we had briefed passengers and medical evacuation was ready. We cut the engine at 15 feet. We know that if a landing gear doesn’t come out we have to make a belly landing. It is the safest thing to do,” he said.
‘Told the doctor to keep patient unaware’
The Captain also shared that he had refrained from sharing this information with the critical patient on-board, and had briefed the doctor in detail to see what would be the safest option for the passenger and his relatives. “I did not want to create panic in the cabin, so I had called the doctor on board telling him that there is an emergency and that they should not tell this to the patient since he was critical and on Oxygen. We told the doctor that we will go for an emergency landing. I asked how long he can survive without the Oxygen, he told me 10-15 minutes. 10 minutes before landing, we told him to inform the patient,” he shared.
Ultimately, the aircraft landed safely, with the help of Captain Kesari Singh, the DGCA, the officials at the CSMIA and other agencies.
A Jet Serve Ambulance with a patient onboard lost a wheel during takeoff from Nagpur. Showing immense presence of mind Capt Kesari Singh belly landed the aircraft on foam carpeting in Mumbai. All onboard are safe. Commendable effort by @DGCAIndia @CSMIA_Official & other agencies. pic.twitter.com/aelehUB7DS
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 6, 2021