Nearly 300 people aboard MH 194 (Kuala Lumpur-Mumbai) got a scare when three of the aircraft’s tyres burst during touchdown on Sunday evening. The pilot of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft, however, managed to make a jerky but safe landing.
The aircraft that was involved in the mishap
The flight, which had taken off from Kuala Lumpur around 6.25 pm, landed at the Mumbai airport around 11 pm on Sunday night. There were 280 passengers and 13 crew members on board. A senior airport official said, “Three rear tyres on the right side of the aircraft burst during landing. Some damage was also sustained by the undercarriage retraction mechanism.
The aircraft, which was parked in a bay near the cargo area will be taken to the Air India hangar for repairs.” Officials said that, usually, the wheel is changed after tyre bursts and the flight can take off as per schedule.
In this case, however, since the retraction mechanism was damaged, the aircraft will be fit to fly only after repairs are done.
“Damage to the retraction assembly indicates that it was a hard landing,” said an official. Till the time of going to press, Malaysia Airlines had not responded to mid-day’s queries.
Aviation expert Vipul Saxena said, “Aircraft tyre bursts usually happen because of ageing of tyres, which must have gone unnoticed by the aircraft maintenance engineer (AME) clearing the aircraft during turnaround inspection. Sometimes this also happens when a high-speed landing causes excessive heat generation in the tyres.”
“There have been cases where rubber pieces have fallen off after take-off, following which pilots were alerted and landing was carried out with the utmost care, with emergency services being kept on standby to deal with situations like tyres catching fire due to overheating.
In such situations, piloting skills of the commander play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of passengers and the aircraft. In some cases, imbalanced landings, which are usually jerky and heavy, put extra pressure on the undercarriage (landing gear),” said Saxena. “After such incidents, inspection of the undercarriage assembly is carried out by the AME to rule out any signs of fatigue or stress signs before the next flight,” he added.
In case of any damage to the assembly, the aircraft undergoes maintenance. If the aircraft belongs to an Indian carrier, the DGCA carries out a detailed investigation and for foreign carries a report is sent to civil aviation authorities of the country where the aircraft is registered.