View Full Version : Saudi 747 lands in closed section of runway

14th Mar 2004, 10:44
CHENNAI, MARCH 13. A Saudi Airlines Jumbo-747 jet with 126 passengers aboard this morning landed in the ``runway area closed for maintenance'' at the Anna international terminal here, damaging two lights. The jet from Riyadh suffered ``fissures in the left and right wing flaps and tyres''.

The aircraft approaching from the Pallavaram-end (Runway 07 end), landed in the ``unserviceable threshold area''. The premature landing in the closed 570-metre area of the main runway gave anxious moments to air traffic controllers and airport managers.

Immediately after touchdown, the pilot taxied the plane to the allotted parking bay. Regional authorities of airworthiness and air safety have grounded the jet. Riyadh-bound passengers from Chennai have been accommodated in city hotels. Arrangements were being made to send them by another aircraft.

The incident took place even after a Notice to Airmen was issued by the national airports division of the Airports Authority of India, intimating the global operators of the closure of the area of the runway.

14th Mar 2004, 11:15
That's what happens when you're looking East and praying to "Allah"!

14th Mar 2004, 12:44

American Captain, American First Officer and British Flight Engineer.................................................... .................... :):)


14th Mar 2004, 12:51
Joles, Mutt just said it all. ;)

14th Mar 2004, 13:40
The Saudis have distinguished themselves before in this town:

Close shave for 368 on Saudi aircraft

K R Sreenivas

CHENNAI, June 2 [1997]: All the 351 passengers and 17 crew members of a Saudia Airlines jumbo jet Boeing 747 aircraft had a miraculous escape when the flight SVA 770 scheduled to land at the Chennai airport at 6.30 am on Monday landed at the nearby Indian Air Force airbase in Tambaram at 6.44 am.

The wide-bodied heavy jumbo jet aircraft which landed on the secondary runway of the Air Force base came to a screeching halt at the edge of the runway barely 100 feet from a few offices on the campus of IAF Tambaram. The aircraft landed with a heavy thud and made a loud noise, scaring all those around. The airmen and others present at the Air Force base station ran for their lives, seeing the aircraft approach towards them at great speed. The flight was on its way to Chennai from Riyadh and Daharan.

The 4,763 feet secondary runway and four tyres of the aircraft were damaged following the landing of the aircraft. However, all the passengers and crew members escaped unhurt. As the pilot applied brakes, the passengers were thrown forward, sources said.

Airport sources said pilot of the aircraft Captain Khayyat sought visual clearance to land at the Chennai airport after sighting the runway. The Air Traffic Control (ATC) gave him permission to land, but the pilot reported that he had overshot the runway. The ATC instructed the pilot to circle and then come back for landing.

The pilot then went on an orbit and landed at the Tambaram Air Force station airstrip, mistaking it for the Chennai Airport. He then contacted the ATC and told them that he had landed, but they wanted to know where he was as they could not see the aircraft at the Chennai Airport. To their shock, the ATC learnt that the pilot had landed at the Tambaram Air Force station. They immediately contacted all agencies concerned and emergency operations commenced.

The Customs, International Airports Division of the Airport Authority of India and Immigration authorities rushed to the site of the incident. The passengers inside the aircraft suffered as the air-conditioning system was off. Passengers complained of suffocation.

Air India, which is the ground handling agent for Saudia Airlines in Chennai, moved the step ladder from the Chennai airport to the Air Force station for passengers to disembark. The Pallavan Transport Corporation (PTC) pressed into service nine buses for their transported to the airport for Customs and Immigration clearance. Sources said the aircraft landed despite refusal of permission to touch down at the IAF airbase. A Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) inquiry has been ordered into the incident. Aviation circles wondered why the pilot did not use the automatic Instrument Landing System (ILS), which guides the aircraft approach path for landing and take off. Since the aircraft circled thrice over the Tambaram runway before landing, the investigators are making enquiries to find if there was a motive for the pilot to land at the sensitive Air Force station base.

A highly placed official said the pilot realised his mistake but it was too late to pull off the aircraft. IAD Airport Director Roshan Lal said the passengers were sent to hotels and all assistance was being provided. The formalities were also relaxed, he said.

The National Airports Division (NAD) has sent a preliminary report to its headquarters in Delhi. The IAF has also constituted a separate inquiry into the incident.


Captain Sand Dune
15th Mar 2004, 05:57
“Captain Khayyat” – don’t sound too ‘merican to me!!:uhoh:
I believe Saudi Arabian Airlines did a similar thing some years ago in India, although it could have been during an emergency divert.
But what the **** were the air traffic controllers at Chennai looking at when the 747 overshot the runway. Not the at the aircraft or the radar obviously!:eek:

15th Mar 2004, 07:47
Does anyone has a link on the story from the first post? (landing on closed rwy)

15th Mar 2004, 08:25
Captain Sand Dune:-

“Captain Khayyat” – don’t sound too ‘merican to me!!
I believe Saudi Arabian Airlines did a similar thing some years ago in India, although it could have been during an emergency divert.

Look at the date of the article in Airbubba's post - 1977!

15th Mar 2004, 10:21
They have displaced the threshold RWY 07 by 570 meters. They have taken the ILS DME off the air. They have switched off the approach lights. No PAPI or VASI. No temporary PAPI or VASI to tell you where the new threshold is.
You are left with a runway with lights on it, and a localizer. Absolutely nothing to help you judge your height or distance from the runway.
Combine this with the Indian meteorologist’s total inability to give you a correct visibility or RVR. They ALWAYS give you a value far below the actual. By doing so, they are in effect forcing us to do a LOC approach for 07 (need 2800 meters), when if fact the visibility is good enough for VOR 25 (need 4000 meters). 25 have PAPI, which makes a world of difference.
The 07 approach is bad enough in daylight, not to mention during night. Did they do the approach in darkness?
Last time I was in Chennai, I saw 2 Indian aircraft aiming for the normal threshold and doing a last minute save by suddenly holding it off a few feet above the RWY until just inside the displaced threshold. I could almost see the WTF bubble hovering over the cockpit, and this is their home turf.

Who's next? Still more than a month to go before MAA resume normal ops. Fixing a taxiway is a complicated task. In India.

I really hope the Saudia crew get a fair treatment. Good luck, guys!

The rest, beware!

LGW Vulture
15th Mar 2004, 10:21
After reading through this thread, the number of times misquotes or misrepresentations have been made compared to the number of posts is amazing!

And we all wonder why the Press get their stories mixed up / twisted etc....laughable! :rolleyes:

16th Mar 2004, 02:39
There was a a report on one of the local language papers on the Saudia incident reported by LTN Man. Sounded too good to me at that time (and you will realise why) till I came accross this thread.
A fairly accurate translation of the news item I came accross is given below

A Saudua aircraft was grounded at Chennai airport today after the aircraft hit a stone on the runway shortly after touchdown. The resulting splinters caused holing in the under carriage and the wings. The passengers due to the fly on the return flight were stranded and later flown by another company aircraft

Now reading this post, the original report makes more sense.

16th Mar 2004, 06:17

I can’t find the link now but my post was a cut and paste job from
a link provided by PPRUNE that looks at the latest newspaper headlines

16th Mar 2004, 07:36
Everyday aviation moves closer to "on the buses".

Our village only has a bus-stop at the Northern end, but if you ask the driver nicely he will stop anywhere. No protests from the other passengers here!

16th Mar 2004, 10:10
Chennai, March 14. Close on the heels of a Saudi passenger jetliner making a wrong landing in the runway area closed for maintenance at the Chennai airport yesterday, an Air France freighter aircraft coming from Abu Dhabi landed in the displaced threshold area today.
According to airport souces, the Air France jumbo jet (AF6744) landed in the 570 meter area of the main runway which was also closed for maintenance. The wrong landing resulted in severe damage to one of the tyres. The incident occured at 1026am when the cargo aircraft arrived from the Pallavaram end of the runway

Two B747 aircraft from different airlines in two days...... methinks that someone should do something about improving the marking showing the exact location of the displaced threshold ...


Kalium Chloride
17th Mar 2004, 11:25
That's what happens when you're looking East and praying to "Allah"

Except that if you're in Chennai, you'd have to look West. ;)

18th Mar 2004, 11:25
But above all, you'd have to look carefully at the NOTAMS.

18th Mar 2004, 17:12
It would help if more of our paperwork was in human readable format.

Take a look at the VOMM notams:


The runway cutback is notamed but it is buried in a sea of cryptic minutiae. Actually, the web page is cleaner than the paperwork I get in Asia with page after page of ICAO Annex 15 formatted text. It is like having to read the source code of a web page to figure out what it looks like.

This 1930's teletype stuff is a little behind the times even in the less developed countries. Sure, after the mishap you can find the warning buried in the pile of paper but the idea is to make things easy to get right, not easy to screw up (in the American system, anyway <g>).

Have you been to Taipei since the Y2K Singapore Airlines crash? The taxiways are now well marked, construction areas are lit up like a fire truck. It took a fatal mishap to get the known runway/taxiway confusion cleaned up.

How many mishaps will it take to get paperwork that can be read by us country boys tryin' to earn a living?

18th Mar 2004, 21:17
Good point, Airbubba.

However, the aforementioned Notam is not so cryptic as you say.

I agree the language should be more human, sometimes, but be honest, not reading carefully the Notams is always a matter of laziness.

If it is really impossible to obtain the Notams, that's a different story, but in my experience, you always get everything if YOU RAISE ENOUGH YOUR VOICE.

bugg smasher
19th Mar 2004, 17:12
I think aviation in India ranks, in terms of poorly lit/marked/maintained runways and antiquated ATC systems, second only to Africa. Always an interesting experience to fly there.

Seems to me that this kind of hazard, though, in additioned to being NOTAMed, should have been announced on the ATIS.

20th Mar 2004, 04:19
bugg smasher

Will second that point having flown for the last 15 months here on the sub continent and for 4 years in Africa.

But that should not deflect from reading the NOTAMS carefully even if there are 3 pages on the one airport (which appears to be the case at VECC VABB and VIDP to name a few).

This case may prove, buried in the paperwork there could be useful info and in this respect LEM is also correct about the laziness that can be attributed to reading NOTAMS.

This incident maybe a lesson to all If ill prepared that could come back and bite you in the ar$e.

It is in places like Africa and the sub continent that test your professional ability Fly safe :D

bugg smasher
21st Mar 2004, 18:28

Will agree with you, reading and understanding the paperwork is essential. The dissemination of data vital to safety related aviation issues is, however, likely as antiquated as the entire system itself in India, hence my point regarding the ATIS broadcast of a potentially hazardous runway condition. It’s a long way to the next suitable after leaving Chennai airspace eastbound, would be nice to know that our Indian friends have our best interests at heart in the event of an enroute diversion.

Apropos of the subject of this thread, any incident in India, no matter how small, trivial or insignificant brings out the hordes of aviation bureaucrats, airport functionaries and other self-starting pencil pushers in droves, and invariably makes the local near-disaster headlines the next morning. And we think we have it bad with the journos here.

22nd Mar 2004, 02:33
Apropos of the subject of this thread, any incident in India, no matter how small, trivial or insignificant brings out the hordes of aviation bureaucrats, airport functionaries and other self-starting pencil pushers in droves, and invariably makes the local near-disaster headlines the next morning. And we think we have it bad with the journos here.

Well may be if a "near disaster headline" was made of these incident, maybe someone would have been asking the question of whether anything could be done to improve things, esp since two incidents appeared to have happened one after the other. Tthe incident was hardly reported by local media.

Unfortunately Indian aviation journalism seems to be mainly confined to feeding off "offcial press releases" or quoting off airline propaganda fed to journos taken on sponsored junket!

And dont write off the aviation bureaucracy in India as totally worthless . The official regulator's site (www.dgca.nic.in) has improved by leaps and bounds over the years , and continues to improve over time. Same with the airports, and while some of the airports like BOM may still need improvement, airports like MAA and TRV (esp the domestic terminals) have become modern comfortable ones which are a pleasure to use. And airport security despite all the horror stories many people (esp those who have never flown in India recently) think, are polite and efficient!

Yes there may still be scope for improvement, but considering the fact that even now, when considering that 80% of the whole aviation in frastructure in India is govt controlled, the changes over the last few years have been remarkable!


22nd Mar 2004, 03:31
Just to add a few facts to the discussion.

I flew into Chennai for the first time last week. The runway under repair and displaced threshold info was clearly stated at the top of the notam package. The closure and threshold info were also noted on the ATIS and a warning was provided by the tower with the landing clearance.

Presumably some of this may be the result of the previous incidents, but at least efforts have been taken to rectify the situation.

The one poor element of the operation I noticed was that ATC was still assigning the LOC approach to 07 for night approaches when the surface wind was from the south and had a negligible tailwind/headwind component. With those conditions the choice of using 25 with a PAPI and no displaced threshold should have at least been offered to inbound flights.


25th Mar 2004, 16:23
Nice to see some objectivity about the Indian airspace for a change !
Yes we do have our weak spots and as one friend pointed out, and flying here can really " test your professional skills" at times, but successive Ministries of Civil Aviation have been making small steps ( agreed much more could have been done, much faster) to improve conditions.
As far as the press goes, one needs to appreciate that aviation as a hobby per se is a very expensive way to spend your time in India and so the near dearth of people in other areas - as not dircetly related to flight- who would possess a professional interest.
The DGCA site is one of the best one can get and they have, in a very welcome move, made open ALL recent crash investigations which earlier was not the case.
So things aren't so bad after all mates...
Keep the Blue Sky Above

25th Mar 2004, 23:27

Considering that two B747 Captains elected to land at a certain point, could it not be that the displaced threshold wasnt properly marked>>>\


26th Mar 2004, 01:23
If you are talking about ATC trying to stuff you up with an inappropriate runway,look no further than the good old USA.