Doha-bound passengers on an Air India Express flight from Mangaluru in south India endured anxious moments on Thursday after the captain declared mid-air emergency as the aircraft developed engine failure and was forced to return.
The aircraft carrying 173 passengers and six crew members made an emergency landing at the Mangaluru International Airport 45 minutes after being airborne, Indian media reported.
“The Boeing 737-800 plane landed safely and there was no harm to any passenger or crew,” Business Standard newspaper said, quoting an Air India Express official.
The flight is now rescheduled for Friday at 5.30am, the official added.
Flight status update on Doha’s Hamad International Airport said the flight is now expected to land on Friday at 7.05am.
"Flight, IX 821, departed from Mangaluru for Doha at 5.40pm. However, when it was mid-air, the pilot detected some technical snag and decided to take back the aircraft to Mangaluru," the official explained.
Passengers were given the option of either boarding the rescheduled flight, taking a full refund or deferring their journey to a later date.
Those who have opted for Friday’s flight have been provided hotel accommodation and other facilities, he said.
Sources in Air India Express were all praise for the poise shown by the captain in handling the situation and landing the aircraft safely, The Times of India reported.
“Ravindran, group general manager and in-charge airport director, Mangaluru International Airport, who confirmed the incident, said the flight landed without a hitch and the entire airport apparatus was put on high alert following communication from the captain that he was returning to the airport as per procedure,” the daily said.
According to The Times of India, a news website quoted passengers on board as saying they heard a loud bang following which passengers panicked.
The passengers noted that the aircraft lost altitude following the engine failure and experienced perceivable vibrations on its return journey till it landed.
Pictures of passengers taking selfies with the captain too did the rounds on social media, the daily added.